Report predicts slower solar-cell growth for 2009

Nov. 26, 2008
Solar energy panel sales will be impacted by poor economic conditions, causing weakened average selling prices and order delays or cancellations, according to a report, "Opportunities in The Solar Cell Market For Thin Film Technology," recently published by The Information Network (New Tripoli, PA), a market-research company.

Solar energy panel sales will be impacted by poor economic conditions, causing weakened average selling prices and order delays or cancellations, according to a report, "Opportunities in The Solar Cell Market For Thin Film Technology," recently published by The Information Network (New Tripoli, PA), a market-research company.

The slowdown in real economic growth, the credit crisis, and other factors point to a contraction in the solar panel market for 2009, notes Robert Castellano, president of The Information Network. "Newly installed solar capacity will reach only 7.1 GW in 2009, equivalent to a global growth rate of 26%, down from our forecast of 49% growth earlier this year," he says.

Panel prices will likely fall between 20 to 30% in 2009 as global supply of polysilicon doubles. Solar companies will attempt to renegotiate silicon supply contracts to get better prices. While this is good news for the solar market, near-term poor macroeconomics will impact installations.

The solar panel market is expected to pick up again in 2010, growing 48% to 10.5 GW of newly installed photovoltaic systems. The thin-film sector, which includes amorphous silicon, cadmium telluride (CdTe), and copper indium gallium selenide, will represent 17.8% of the market in 2009, growing to 20.2% in 2010. Plagued by low efficiencies in the region of 7% to 12%, this sector will be compensated by lower manufacturing costs.

"First Solar (Tempe, AZ), for example, produces its CdTe cells at an average cost per watt of $1.12 and sells them at an average price per watt of $2.45," added Castellano. "Applied Materials (Santa Clara, CA) is selling thin-film equipment for amorphous silicon panels with a $1.56 per watt total production cost. Polysilicon panels are selling in the $5 per watt range."

About the Author

John Wallace | Senior Technical Editor (1998-2022)

John Wallace was with Laser Focus World for nearly 25 years, retiring in late June 2022. He obtained a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and physics at Rutgers University and a master's in optical engineering at the University of Rochester. Before becoming an editor, John worked as an engineer at RCA, Exxon, Eastman Kodak, and GCA Corporation.

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