Clean Power

Published on May 9th, 2014 | by James Ayre


Silicon Thin-Film Solar Going Nowhere, According To New Report From EnergyTrend

May 9th, 2014 by  

DuPont Solar

The future of the silicon thin-film market is looking bleak, according to a new report from EnergyTrend, a research division of TrendForce.

After the (relatively) recent announcement from DuPont that it was planning to terminate its silicon thin-film operations, questions have certainly begun to come up about how much longer the market can keep going. And, according to EnergyTrend, the answer to that question is a steady decline.

“Judging from recent price quotes, silicon thin-film price quotes is at US$0.58/watt while silicon module is at US$0.6/watt. (The) price difference has decreased from the original US$0.1/watt to US$0.02/watt. Therefore, silicon thin-film product no longer holds price competitiveness,” explained EnergyTrend’s research manager Arthur Hsu.

“Meanwhile, silicon module conversion efficiency is around 17.2% while silicon thin-film remains at (around) 8% to 10%. (The) efficiency gap between the two will continue to increase as silicon module efficiency goes up.”

Previously, the general hope had been for the commercialization of Oerlikon’s Tandem-Junction amorphous silicon technology to help revive the market, but with the closing down of the company’s micromorph thin-film production line operations in January 2014, that clearly isn’t going to happen anymore.

The rest of the solar industry continues to chug along healthily, though, so the loss isn’t terrible, but it does narrow the possibilities somewhat. Solar power clearly has a bright future, but not all solar technologies will triumph.

Speaking of recent advances in the industry, it appears as though a solar cell with a 50% conversion efficiency is getting closer by the day. North Carolina–based Semprius recently announced a key step towards that goal with the creation of a new four-junction, four-terminal solar cell that can reach efficiencies as high as 43.9%.

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Image Credit: DuPont

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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • AltairIV

    This is just standard industry evolution, in other words. The technologies that can compete the best tend to increase, while the ones that don’t eventually die out. Winnowing the field a little from time to time is a good thing.

  • Gwennedd

    I hope it does manage to become a contender. The applications are so much better than silicone panels and we need all the options and versatility we can get.

  • JamesWimberley

    First Solar’s thin-film technology is not of course based on silicon but a quite different semiconductor, cadmium telluride, and it’s holding up quite well. For now. Ultimate winners are always unpredictable.

    • Yeah, I thought about throwing a note in there, but figured people who knew that First Solar did thin-film would also recognize that it doesn’t do silicon thin-film.

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