From the Fabricator: BIPV—Boom or Bust?

Who out there still believes in building integrated photovoltaics? I follow a few people on Twitter who are still loyal to the cause and I know several companies that are confident their product will be the one that hits it big. The reason I bring this up is that this past week I saw a news report that Heliatek reached a new world record in efficiency with its transparent solar cells. I chuckled, because back in my past life I was involved with a product, not too different than the Heliatek one, that I believed and still believe could have been the gamechanger. The effort is still ongoing, but here we are five or six years later, and BIPV is not near the mainstream yet. Will it get there? I still believe that there are too many parts of the building not active and that with the push for net zero and net positive, BIPV is a must. The question is: When will the right product, with the right efficiency and at the right price come to fruition?


  • Meanwhile, the numbers for traditional solar installations are interesting. In 2013, solar-generating capacity beat wind-generating capacity for the first time. By 2023, solar is expected to dwarf wind, almost doubling its output. What’s the reason? Major utilities are jumping on board and pushing it. Clean energy is undoubtedly something that has not reached anywhere near its potential yet.
  • Congrats to my good friend Mike Dishmon of Virginia Glass Products on his recent appointment as VP of Sales and Marketing. Mike’s a great and talented person who will do tremendous things there.
  • Last week I wrote on VUCA, and all week I heard various thoughts and opinions on it.  The main theme was no one had heard of VUCA before, and now that they’ve heard of it, they are fascinated by it. I have to admit, I am too. Really interesting mindset to have.
  • The Architecture Billings Index was a little flat last month, but given how insanely bad the weather has been, with across-the-board complaints on the effect the weather has had on construction, it's not a surprise. I believe good things are still to come.
  • Spring, however, will not be coming. I’m convinced of that. I just think we’ll go right from winter into next winter.

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The author is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications. E-mail him at

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.


Definitely "bust". I know many a moron who invested heavily in bipv curtain wall r&d. Today, their mock-up is reminiscent of a mechanical bull tucked in the corner of a 1980's bar covered with cobwebs. Oh, you should have seen the Kool-Aid going down. They were guzzling it I tell ya!