Thin-film photovoltaics market poised for growth

Aug. 15, 2007
The global thin-film photovoltaics (TFPV) market is forecast to reach $7.

GLEN ALLEN,VA—The global thin-film photovoltaics (TFPV) market is forecast to reach $7.2 billion by 2015, compared to just over $1.0 billion today, according to a new report from NanoMarkets LC.

According to the report, the market is being driven by the inherent advantages of TFPV including low cost, low weight,and the ability to manufacture them on flexible substrates and embed solar power capabilities into walls, roofs, and even windows.Unlike more conventional PV that uses crystalline silicon, TFPV also has the ability to operate under low-light conditions.The report notes that tosupport the growing demand for TFPV,most manufacturers are ramping up pro-duction capacity. Several, including FirstSolar, Fuji Electric, Nanosolar, Sanyo,Uni-Solar and G24i, are building plants with more than 100 MW in capacity.

Other findings in the report include:

—Because worldwide energy prices are rising fast and PV prices are falling fast, PV will carve off a big slice of the energy market and could eventually account for as much as 20% of the’s energy needs. Because TFPVcosts less than conventional PV, TFPV is most likely to take off first. Just a few years ago, TFPV was only 5% of the entire PV market, but it is expected to account for 35% of the photovoltaics market by 2015. PV also offers pre-dictable pricing, something that fossil fuels cannot do.

—Conventional PV is expensive to make.By contrast TFPV can be manufactured using simple printing or other R2R machines;the value of printed TFPV is expected to reach just over $3.0 billion by 2015. Printing PV has the potential for lowering capital costs by as much as 75%, reducing waste and increasing throughput.

—The fact that TFPV is also much lighter than conventional PV and can bemore easily applied to curved and non-planar surfaces, means that TFPV is easier to install on roofs and walls.Where alot of panels need to be installed on aroof, use of TFPV reduces the likelihood that the roof will have to be specially reinforced.TFPV is also enabling win-dows that double as PV panels, making PV much more practical for buildings large and small.

—Organic-based PV offers hope for the future.They are more ecologically friendly than other PV approaches. Efficiencies of organic PV are also improving rapidly and new cell architectures promise that the performance of organic PV devices could come close toor possibly even exceed those of their purely inorganic counterparts. By 2015, NanoMarkets expects shipments of organic PV to reach 500 MW.

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