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Opportunities for thin film photovoltaics in Building Integrated photovoltaics (BIPV)with a focus on Australia

Tominaga, Miwa (2009) Opportunities for thin film photovoltaics in Building Integrated photovoltaics (BIPV)with a focus on Australia. Masters by Coursework thesis, Murdoch University.

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Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) products can not only generate electricity but also provide structural stability, thermal insulation, shading, natural lighting, protection from water and other elements. Thin film photovoltaic cells are favoured over crystalline cells in BIPV applications, due to their physical flexibility, wide ranging options for installation, comparably low cost and aesthetics. Of the total worldwide PV market, thin film technologies contribute only about 10%. However, this is set to change.

Third generation thin film PV has the advantages of their flexible substrate and the ability to perform in dim or variable lighting. Their low temperature roll-to-roll manufacturing methods make them economical for large surface areas such as BIPV roofing and facades. First and second generation PV have proven themselves in BIPV installations in products such as tiles, laminates, slates and glazing. Much excitement surrounds Canberra based thin film solar cell company Dyesol and their partnership with strip steel sheeting manufacturers Corus. Together they plan to provide the world with a possible 35GW of BIPV generated energy per annum.

There is great potential for BIPV in Australia, with the average Australian residential household being able to generate almost three times their average daily energy use. The $/m2 costs for BIPV products in Australia are fast approaching cost competitiveness with conventional building materials. Some types of thin film PV have already broken through the $1/W manufacturing cost barrier and are speeding towards grid parity with conventional fossil fuel generated electricity. However, there are still many barriers to increasing the use of BIPV which must also be addressed.

Government support is critical for BIPV to achieve the potential that it can and to create a level playing field against Australia's well established coal and fossil fuel industries. Some of the measures that the Australian government could introduce in support of BIPV are:

• One Australia-wide gross feed-in tariff with extra incentives for BIPV generated electricity, paying 5times the standard rate for electricity. This would also remove the administrative burden on state and territory governments, each with different schemes.
• Mandate for all new buildings to be zero emissions by 2016.
• Encourage the use of on-site renewables.
• Fund large-scale public projects to showcase the BIPV technology.
• Support and coordinate with independent regulators so the approval process for the importation of BIPV products is transparent and straight forward.
• Provide educational programs that train architects and builders to design BIPV installations.
• Fund R&D into thin-film PV technologies and their commercialisation in BIPV applications.
• Support cooperation between BIPV manufacturers and others in the value chain.
• Support the PV manufacturing industry to attract new facilities to Australia. This provides more green jobs, a highly skilled workforce and supports the PV industry for future generations.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Coursework)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Engineering and Energy
Supervisor(s): Jennings, Philip
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