Building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) produce electricity from sunlight and enable the use of synergy effects by substituting the ordinary envelope of a building. Nevertheless, this technology and solar cells in general cannot yet be operated economically without financial support except in remote areas without grid connectivity. In Germany generous subsidies have supported the spread of photovoltaics (PV) since the 1990s and obviously let to a fast growing market. In contrast, in France no comparable incentives were put in place and therefore PV are less prevalent. However, a special policy to foster the diffusion of BIPV products was introduced in 2006. This study aims at understanding and explaining the evolution of building integrated photovoltaics within Germany and France. The performance of the technological innovation systems (TIS) of solar cells and the evolution of BIPV are analysed. In addition, a cross-country comparison of Germany and France is used to provide recommendations to policy makers. Furthermore, this study aims at contributing to the theory on innovation system analysis by identifying weaknesses in the TIS framework, and proposing improvements.