August 16, 2007
World Thin Film Solar Market to Explode by 2015

The world 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, an industry analyst firm based here. Additional details about the report are available on the firm's website here.

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 to support the growing demand for TFPV, most manufacturers are ramping up production capacity and several -- including First Solar, Fuji Electric, Nanosolar, Sanyo, Uni-Solar and G24i -- are building plants with more than 100 MW in capacity.

- 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 percent of the U.S. market's energy needs. Because TFPV costs less than conventional PV, TFPV is most likely to take off first. Just a few years ago, TFPV was only five percent of the entire PV market, but it is expected to account for 35 percent of the photovoltaics market by 2015. PV also offers predictable 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 percent, reducing waste and increasing throughput.

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

- PV based on organic materials is 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 to or possibly even exceed those of their purely inorganic counterparts. By 2015 NanoMarkets expects shipments of organic PV to reach 500 MW.