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Residential market to induce solar tile demand

Seeking for the higher value on the standardized market.

Eterbright solar module in Italy

The ultimate idea of Building Integrated PV (BIPV) tiles is to replace traditional roofing materials so that both, the end user and the installer, could benefit. For the client, the roof, rather than the cost, transforms into an investment vehicle. As it generates income, in the long term, it is free and could therefore be replaced more frequently without financial stress. For installers, BIPV tiles open up new opportunities to operate in promising markets with high profit margins and scarce competition. What counts are the know-how and the innovative spirit to seize the untapped demand.

Residential market projections

In densely populated areas, the scarcity of land for PV utility and industrial-scale projects appears to be a major obstacle for new developments. Recent advances in BIPV address the issue with an increasingly complex offering, including PV tiles which account for more than 50% of BIPV roofing solutions on the market. Their dominant share derives from the fact that integration is particularly attractive in the residential market, particularly in high-income countries such as Western and Northern Europe. With an estimated BIPV residential roof area in the EU-27 of over 2350k km2, the potential of BIPV tiles is enormous. Clearly, for larger areas, since economic aspects take precedence over aesthetics, BAPV products are used.

From the construction perspective, it is worth examining whether the market is characterized by stability, or even prosperity since such would stand for a healthy foundation for the already growing PV sector. According to the European industry data, the PV is expected to record a CAGR of 7.8% to reach 270 billion USD by 2024. Further, the residential construction industry, in value terms, increased at a CAGR of 4.2% during 2015-2019. As far as single housing (with separate roof) is concerned, it is estimated that around 40% of the new dwellings fall into this category. In addition to this number, any other class of buildings that do not exemplify apartment blocks but does not meet the definition of a single-family home could be added. Finally, the newly constructed units will represent only between 10 to 20% of the total stock by 2050, leaving the market open for large investments also in the segment of older buildings, of virtually unlimited demand.

Technical requirements

There are strong growth trends in the photovoltaic and construction markets. In order to seize opportunities, both markets' concerns should be addressed, so that products offer full functionality and do not discourage investors through their complexity. From a technical point of view, BIPV tiles must provide a protective screen against hostile weather conditions while the main concern is the prevention of moisture infiltration. The primary source of moisture is wind rain, which often occurs in areas of Northern Europe. The design which represents the compromise between the current technological capabilities of the PV manufacturer and the ideal design inquired by the roofing segment of BIPV tiles should therefore be watertight, particularly at interconnects and joints with regular roofing materials. Durability and safety should be guaranteed for a lifetime of at least 25 years – the standard state of the PV industry.

According to the EN 50583-1:2016, photovoltaic systems are considered to be building integrated if they form a construction product providing the functionalities as defined in the European Construction Product Regulation CPR 305/2011. The approach certainly works in favor of the end-customer who purchases the high-end, pricey product and expects the certified quality, especially when the systems have not had a long or a rich history of utilization. On the other hand, the obligation of fulfilling PV and construction standards could be a major obstacle to the manufacturers – mostly small or medium scale companies without the vast resources accessible to the larger producers of the mainstream PV. To comply with regulations, certification procedures are often costly and lengthy, so they have a significant impact on sales, profitability, as well as on the R&D and design process.

From the product perspective, the market for BIPV tiles is definitely not standardized. Not only sizing, but also designs and materials are often specific to individual manufacturers. The customer could choose between tiles made of ceramic base, metallic frameworks, or composite materials. Ceramics are often smaller and heavier, whereas metal and composite materials are lighter. Since the substantial part of the system losses occurs on the connectors, the size of the tiles should be optimized while the direct ceramic/clay tile references might not be the most suitable solutions. Weight-wise the aluminum-framed offer has a clear advantage over other types, sparing on the roof support. As far as the fire safety is concerned, the clay and aluminum perform better during fire tests. They also show greater heat dissipation, which contributes to lower temperature coefficients and hence higher yields.

Along with the choice of materials, product design is equally essential. To facilitate installation and distribution, tiles should be fully compatible with the traditional roofing offering. According to our experience, only such an approach would guarantee the scalability of the market development, on both, new construction and renovation segments, which could be achieved through easy access to the materials and labor to conduct the projects. Unfortunately, most of the BIPV tile’ suppliers are still limited by the PV concepts with few, including Eterbright willing to actively cooperate with established roof tile producers to find the optimal solutions.


Next to design, aesthetics is an important tool for marketers and it has long been considered a positive product attribute that serves to attract and satisfy customers and act as a reference point between brands and segments. In PV, integration shapes the customer's view of the products, which ultimately exists in the contextual field of the system and surrounding architecture. Obviously, there is a strong negative relationship between visual product aesthetics and price sensitivity, meaning that not only the customers are willing to purchase the aesthetically appealing products with premium, but also they resign from the PV systems that could disturb the visual space.

While there is limited data on the extent of this premium, few studies could shed light on the actual values. The study carried out on the Swiss market indicated about 9k Euro of the accepted additional cost of the aesthetic system compared with the 40k Euro standard. The customers appreciated the integration and the coloring of the total composition of the roof. In similar research conducted on the Southern European market of North Cyprus, the accepted premium for the integrated 4kWp PV installation (including the roof) was estimated to exceed well over 1k Euro for at least 25% of the customers. Similar values could be assumed for other Mediterranean countries where citizens, through cultural similarities, present well-known considerations about the surrounding aesthetics.

The aesthetics of BIPV solutions play an essential role when choosing the installation, but its positive impact is also reflected throughout the product life cycle. The ownership preference combined with the longer lifespan of photovoltaic systems, leads to a situation where owner-occupied dwellings produce the majority of photovoltaic energy. Twenty-five years of the system's lifecycle is long enough to allow some of these units to enter the housing market. At this stage, raising the value of the property would be a tangible benefit to the owner. The surveys conducted on the Dutch market bring some quantitative insights. Firstly, it was confirmed that the PV installations upgrade the perceived value of the purchased dwellings. Even 25% of respondents declared the will to pay the PV system replacement value, which was often estimated well above the actual installation cost. The main reasons behind such results are the preference of the pre-installed system; lack of expertise about the real system costs and costs associated with the value of the house, which is considered more attractive with the PV system embodied; PV as an investment generating savings on future electricity bills. As far as BIPV is concerned, the idea of aesthetics was also examined and the BIPV systems were described as significantly more appealing leaving the conclusion about the existing space for highly integrated products to be delivered by the installers. The results were confirmed by on the American market where the owners of the houses with PV systems would capitalize on them from 3 to 4% when selling the properties. The nominal values were relatively high, reaching over 20k USD. Similar to the Dutch results, the will to purchase the property with PV mark-ups prevailed with the group of educated, eco-savvy buyers. This group of customers would be most likely the target group of BIPV products and PV and it is highly likely that the aesthetics of solar tile combined with its functionality, would be successful in such segments of the market.

Eterbright’ targeted offer

Eterbright rightly predicted the market tendency that was followed by the implementation of the BIPV strategy. Until now, the special focus was placed on the development of safe and efficient BIPV roof tiles, fully compatible with the products of such roofing manufacturers as BMI Braas, Teja Borjas, and Benders. Our approach guarantees the best value for money, facilitates installation and optimizes the integration of roofs using existing elements accessible in each European country. Due to our own CIGS technology, the tiles could be attached at any angle or orientation so that the systems could still generate the highest possible returns per kWp installed. As the market continues to grow, we are constantly committed to developing new models to fully seize opportunities from even niche markets.


1. Defaix, P.R., van Sark, W.G.J.H.M., Worrell, E., and de Visser, E. (2012) Technical potential for photovoltaics on buildings in EU-27. Solar Energy, 86, 2644-2653.

2. European Commission (2018) Improving energy and resource efficiency, European Construction Sector Observatory, November 2018.

3. Hille, S. L., Curtius, H. Ch., Wüstenhagen, R. (2018) Red is the new blue – The role of color, building integration and country-of-origin in homeowners ’ preferences for residential photovoltaics. Energy and Buildings, 162, 21-31.

4. Radmehr, M., Willis, K., and Kenechi, U.E. (2014) A framework for evaluating WTP for BIPV in residential housing design in developing countries: A case study of North Cyprus. Energy Policy, 70, 207–216.