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Cost comparison of facade building materials

If photovoltaic modules are used to build a façade, they replace materials such as glass or stone. Therefore, when assessing the economic efficiency of PV façades, it is necessary to factor in the materials that have been replaced so as to account correctly for cost synergies.

The additional costs of a façade-integrated PV system are due to the difference between the costs of the PV modules and the façade material not required. The approximate figures for various façade materials (including assembly) are based on 750€/m² for a PV façade in Austria. The investment costs of a PV façade are around 7% higher than for a stone façade and around 20% higher than for a glass or ceramic façade. Compared with a façade of polished stone, the investment costs of a PV façade are roughly 60% lower. In addition, unlike a stone or glass façade, a PV façade supplies ecofriendly electricity for many years.
Figure 1: Approximate figures for façade materials (€/m²) including assembly

Source: ATB Becker, Bendel

Development of costs

The more PV modules become standardised “normal” building materials, the less difference there will be in costs compared with conventional façade and building components.

On the basis of previous experience, the price of a standard PV system is expected to drop by around 20 per cent, with cumulated installed output doubling (PSE GmbH). The building cost index indicates the development of construction prices paid by building clients. A comparison of the development of the PV system price and the building cost index shows that building-integrated photovoltaics will be cheaper than conventional high-grade façade materials such as ceramic or stone by around 2012 (source: Maurus, sunways AG).


Figure 2: PV system price and building cost index

Source: Maurus, sunways AG

Last page update: 07.02.2011