New PV rooftop technology under development
A low-cost building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) system for Australian residential, commercial and industrial rooftops is being developed by BlueScope Steel.
BlueScope Steel is developing a low-cost building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) system for Australian residential, commercial and industrial rooftops. Supported by a grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) Emerging Renewables Program, BlueScope Steel will develop prototypes of the new technology in two stages.
The first stage will adapt existing thin film and balance-of-system (BOS) technologies to deliver considerable cost and performance advantages, and the second stage will introduce novel organic solar technologies and incorporate low-cost photovoltaic (PV) materials and manufacturing processes.
Despite the potential for rooftop solar to contribute to national energy requirements, BlueScope Steel’s market research shows that widespread uptake by Australian consumers has not yet eventuated. A recent reduction in government incentives has contributed to a drop-off in demand from the residential market, driven primarily by financial viability considerations.
According to BlueScope Steel, BIPV offers enormous advantages over conventional rooftop PV systems by reducing installation and energy costs and reducing peak energy demands placed on the grid.
“The aim of this project is to develop an integrated PV system that is reliable and affordable in the absence of government incentives,” Dr Troy Coyle, manager of coated products development at BlueScope Steel Research, states. “By optimising existing technologies, we believe that we can create a product that incorporates quality Australian steel, inverter technologies and leading international Generation 2 thin-film PV technologies as a cost-effective solution.”
According to Coyle, significant cost reductions will be driven by improvements to PV modules, optimised roofing profiles, reduced packaging and transport, reduced building energy requirements and easy, low-cost installation.