The evolution of building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) in the German and French technological innovation systems for solar cells

University essay from Chalmers tekniska högskola/Institutionen för energi och miljö

Abstract: Building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) are photovoltaic (PV) systems, fulfilling a functionof a building and therefore allowing synergy effects by substituting the ordinary envelope of abuilding. The purpose of this thesis is, first, to understand and explain the evolution of BIPVtechnology within the German and French technological systems for solar cells and, second,to contribute to the theory on technological innovation systems by adding elements from themulti-level perspective on technological transition. We apply the structural as well as thefunctional analyses described in the technological innovation system (TIS) approach andcomplete these analyses by elements of the multi-level perspective on technological transitionto investigate the evolution of BIPV. Furthermore, conclusions and policy implications aredrawn out of a cross-country comparison of the German and French cases.In Germany, a large amount of resources has been allocated to PV research since the 1970s.Furthermore, since the end of the 1970s a strong green movement emerged favouringrenewable energy in general. Demonstration and market formation programmes in the 1990slay the ground to build the biggest market for photovoltaic systems worldwide in 2007. Incontrast, in France 78 percent of the electricity were produced by nuclear power in 2006 andthe PV capacity installed is still very low. Photovoltaics have suffered from a low policyinterest and the strong resistance of the national electricity utility Electricité de France,blocking their diffusion. Nevertheless, in July 2006, a strong feed-in tariff with a specialbonus for BIPV systems was implemented, giving hope to the development of a market andan industry for PV.First, we conclude that in Germany and France, landscape changes had different impacts onthe technological innovation systems for solar cells, which resulted in different paths for theirdevelopment. The German system has shifted to a growth phase, whereas the French remainsin a formative phase. We underline that BIPV systems interact with and face barriers of tworegimes: the electricity supply regime and the building regime. Since barriers, such as longpermission procedures, from the electricity supply regime against PV remain in France, BIPVare regarded as an opportunity for market formation. Indeed, BIPV may benefit from thesupport of the building regime and hence overcome barriers from the electricity supplyregime. In contrast, in Germany BIPV are seen as a small niche for PV to diversify into.The evolution of BIPV in the German and French TIS for solar cellsIVHowever, the development of BIPV is hindered by building regime’s institutions such asbuilding codes, which require long and expensive certification procedures. In addition, inFrance the lack of architects involved in BIPV slows down the diffusion of buildingintegrated systems. In Germany a premature lock-in situation favouring additive on-roofsystems, may hamper the growth of the BIPV market.Second, we identified that the TIS theory may not fully cover the transition from one systemto another and may lack insights regarding the origin of external forces. Therefore, we suggestthat these weaknesses can be reduced by borrowing the niche, regime and landscape levelsfrom the multi-level perspective on technological transition. Particularly, the evolution ofBIPV in Germany and France shows the importance of niche-regime interaction for nicheformation.Finally, we highlight lessons for policy makers. In Germany, a premature lock-in situationmay hinder the diversification of PV applications such as BIPV whereas in France the factthat the BIPV market may be too small to create an industry with a complete value-chain canbe underlined.

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