Glen Allen, VA--A report from industry-analyst firm NanoMarkets says that, while glass will continue to dominate substrate and encapsulation materials used for inorganic thin-film photovoltaics (TFPVs), new materials such as metal foils, plastics, ceramics, and composites will grow rapidly in importance. This is a result of the push to manufacture newer flexible PV materials using roll-to-roll processes, resulting in "intrinsically flexible products." The report covers TFPV materials such as thin-film silicon, cadmium telluride, and copper indium gallium (di)selenide (CIGS).
The TFPV substrate/encapsulation market is expected to reach $1.3 billion by 2015 and $1.8 billion by 2017. While some of the most-advanced encapsulation systems have proven difficult to develop and come with a high cost, there are some thin-film PV materials where these systems are beginning to make economic sense, most notably CIGS.
The report says that, despite their decline in overall market share, glassmakers can still expect opportunities to emerge for them. Thus, new flexible glasses can be used in the growing portion of the TFPV market that uses roll-to-roll processes. In addition, the report suggests that glass will continue to dominate for the highest-performing, "utility-grade" TFPV panels for both encapsulation and substrate purposes.
That said, NanoMarkets believes that the TFPV market is seeking new materials, such as low-cost thermally resistant plastics, and lower-cost dyadic (dual-material) encapsulation systems. It claims that these new materials ultimately have opportunities that go well beyond the PV space--for example in flexible displays and flexible lighting.
For more info, see www.nanomarkets.net.
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