Enter the Dragon’s Ladder: BIPV SunStyle Seeks to Enter the US Market Following European Projects

SunStyle’s shingle is built around a silicon solar cell, which has a layer of glass on top that is coated with an anti-glare coating. Picture: Sunshine Style

Building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) have many potential benefits. The technology promises to seamlessly camouflage itself into the design of a structure while generating power for the user. However, their widespread adoption has been hampered by high prices and scalability issues.

But Gene Rosendale, CEO of BIPV company SunStyle, believes the time is right for his company’s technology, called “dragonscale”, in the United States, given the country’s appetite for solar power, the strength of its company’s product and the recent investments SunStyle has made in its supply. chain infrastructure.

Why choose BIPV?

The appeal of the technology is clear – they are aesthetically appealing with a sleek design that resembles interlocking ladders, hence the name dragon scales, while generating energy for the building. SunStyle’s technology is also independent of electronics, which means that it can be integrated with different electrical components from any manufacturer and can be linked to a battery energy storage system (BESS).

But there have been lingering issues around the high cost and scalability issues impacting the economics of BIPV. Tesla’s vaunted roof tile has been plagued with problems and has yet to live up to expectations nearly six years after its initial launch.

Rosendale, however, is convinced that after a number of pilot projects in Europe, the time has come for SunStyle in the United States. Its dragon scale technology has passed all required US roofing tests, such as hail and fire protection as well as insult ratings, and SunStyle has developed its supply chain and business infrastructure.

The shingle is built around a standard silicon solar cell, covered with a layer of glass covered with an anti-reflective coating. They are laid out using SunStyle’s layered diamond structure designed to protect against the elements. More than 90,000 of the shingles have been deployed at Google’s new offices in Mountain View, California, as part of SunStyle’s flagship US project.

“Our business model is to design a product and how to install it, then work with resellers to install it in their customers’ homes,” Rosendale explains in an interview with PV technology.

The roof has a 25-year warranty, as per industry standards, although Rosendale expects it to last longer than that, while the performance of the solar shingles is guaranteed. After 10 years, its performance will drop to 90%, dropping to 80% after 25 years, which Rosendale says is still above current industry standards.

While it’s less expensive to install solar modules on an existing roof, when a new roof is required, SunStyle’s product comes into its own, Rosendale says.

SunStyle’s Dragon Scale Solar Shingles, shown, interlock in a diamond formation and generate energy for the building. Picture: Sunshine Style

A matter of cost

SunStyle’s roof costs between US$36 and US$41 per square foot. On top of that there is an additional $1.05 per watt. Shingles can be active or inactive – that is, whether they generate energy or not – explains John Reed, chief technology officer at SunStyle. Customers could choose to have a roof that generates no electricity or a roof where each shingle absorbs energy from the sun, for example.

“You’re not just paying for a high-end roof, you’re also paying for the power generation it brings,” says Reed, adding that the exact economics of the project will be affected by the design desired by the client, the conditions climatic, architectural factors and more.

For residential, commercial or industrial customers who want a new high-end roof and the power-generating aspect it brings, a dragonscale roof is an attractive option, Rosendale says. “This is where the conversation gets interesting,” he notes, “and this is where we get interest from architects, roofers and solar installers.”

And there’s definitely a big market for new roof construction in the United States. According to Rosendale, there are approximately 10 million residential roof renovations per year in the United States, with 1.5 million new residential installations and approximately 300,000 commercial roof renovations per year.

To address some of the issues that have plagued other BIPV equipment, SunStyle regularly invests in strengthening its supply chain and scalability, Rosendale says. The company has accumulated enough inventory to supply all of its 2022 projects, which means it can deliver in a week or two anywhere in the United States, and has invested in hiring and training to ensure customer service.

“We think the United States is now ready to embrace this when I think it would have been questionable much earlier,” Rosendale says, adding that’s why SunStyle decided to focus on the more “solar” environment. ” from Europe.

He says lessons learned from his projects across Europe have helped SunStyle capture a bigger share of the US market. With a niche market, an experienced team and an attractive product offering, he is confident that SunStyle can succeed where others have stagnated.

Michael J. Chiaramonte