Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Transfer of competence

The usual market for traditional fired-clay tiles is basically in individual and small-size collective housing, roughly half for new buildings and half for retrofitting. By chance, this segment of construction market is also a target market for grid-connected PV technology. Experiences in all countries clearly show that individual housing has always been the first niche for development of PV, even when cost are high and support policy weak.

Several reasons come to explain this: the high motivation of owners and/or users since solar-roofing is seen as a citizen action in favour of the environment; the much more relative issue of cost-effectiveness for decision to invest than in other economic sectors since a pay-back time roughly coherent with the usual duration of loans for housing (frequently up to 15-20 years) is regarded as reasonable; the decision to invest is flexible and fast; a few number of intervening parties all along the chain for decision and implementation, since a direct relationship between supplier and buyer is the usual practice; a high demonstration and dissemination capacity based on the proven word of mouth process, which is based on the possibility for anybody to identify himself to such a project.

On the opposite, this market segment has to face structural disadvantages, irrespectively of support and incentive schemes that are implemented at national or regional level: a large geographical distribution of the demand, which leads to difficulties and over-costs for marketing and for logistic management; a frequent overvalue of the actual risk by the potential customer or by the local installer because of a poor knowledge of the state-of-the art; the difficulty for any new product to be introduced in the construction sector constituted mainly by SMEs and craftsmen, and among the go-between partners like wholesalers and retailers, which all can be considered as rather conservative.

These disadvantages must be overtaken for an industrial scale to be reached in PV roofs technology dissemination. PV-STARLET precisely aims at reaching this objective through an innovative approach.

In these prospects, the composition of the consortium itself represents a major innovation in the field of PV programs. The leadership is assumed by one of the main European industrial company in traditional tiles manufacturing representing more than direct 12 000 employees in 6 state-members, but the competence on PV technology is guaranteed by a very small non-profit making association with a long experience in domestic PV systems. These complementary experiences make it possible to develop an integrated organisation for manufacturing, marketing and associated services based on up-to-date knowledge of all technical, legal and economical issues necessary to guarantee for the final users the highest quality of materials and of services, including a global energy efficiency approach.

The transfer of competence is realised through training of the commercial and technical staff of the partners on PV issues, and technical assistance. Through this European programme, the partners have the opportunity to meet and to federate many actors of the photovoltaic industry partners, suppliers and subcontractors- so they find their own place into this new business.

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114 Bd du 11 novembre
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