“In Scandinavia, people are more pragmatic about BIPV”
How do you assess the market development for your Solrif in-roof system?
Helge Hartwig: Business is good, we have direct enquiries from end customers who are showing interest. A large part of our sales is made through our partners among the module manufacturers. There it depends on how actively the manufacturers sell their in-roof systems. And, of course, by the peculiarities of the regional markets spread across Europe.
Are your activities with Solrif mostly in Europe?
You could say that, yes. In Europe, the German market is very underrepresented, and for historical reasons: There are considerable prejudices against in-roof systems here.
Where are things going well?
In Scandinavia. People there are more pragmatic about the issue. In the UK, Norway and Sweden we see very noticeable growth, although there is no special subsidy for BIPV. Customers from the Netherlands are also reporting increased interest, sporadically also in the Baltic countries. Recently, we have also started selling in the Ukraine, for example.
So far there has been ample support for such systems in the French market. But that is over. Will this market come to a standstill?
Due to the subsidy, a lot was done in France and unfortunately also a lot done wrong. When a subsidy is withdrawn, it takes a while for the market to settle down again. On the one hand, there is a lot of experience with roof integration. On the other hand, poorly constructed roofs, even if isolated, are not helpful.
Will there be further funding?
I don't see that, and I wouldn't wish for it either. Everywhere in Europe we are seeing that the free markets are developing best, not only for roof-mounted installations, but also for BIPV. What is more, the subsidy only applied to small installations anyway.
The interview was conducted by Heiko Schwarzburger.
Helge Hartwig, PhD, is in charge of sales and technology for mounting systems (photovoltaics) at Ernst Schweizer AG in Hedingen near Zurich. (HS/mfo)
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