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Solar PV Technology Roadmap Shows Healthy Industry

“The solar photovoltaic industry will continue to offer strong growth potential for a wide range of PV manufacturing technologies,” said NPD Solarbuzz vice president, Finlay Colville, on the launch of their latest PV Technology Roadmap report, which shows thin-film, premium crystalline silicon (c-Si), and the more traditional standard silicon-based each able to grow their market share over the next five years.

The NPD Solarbuzz PV Technology Roadmap report, released on Monday, investigates production, shipment, and market share for each PV technology over the next five years.

The most common solar PV technology, standard silicon-based PV modules using solar-grade wafers, will account for 89% of solar capacity forecast to be installed in 2014, while thin-film will supply nearly 8%, and c-Si the remaining 3%.

“Market-share comparisons are benchmarks of the relative success of the various technologies, but the PV industry continues to experience high growth rates, with annual demand doubling almost every four years,” added Colville. “Technologies do not need to gain market share in order to grow shipment volumes or offer significant opportunities for equipment and materials suppliers.”

Moving forward, however, c-Si technologi will dominate the market. Speaking to the issue via email, Finlay Colville notes that “standard cell types are being replaced by high-efficiency variants,” adding that this push will be filled by c-Si technology.

“The c-Si technologies have the lowest cost structure and are the preferred technology type used by the dominant module suppliers to the industry,” Colville said. “This trend will only increase in the next few years.”

Accelerated Technology Roadmap Scenario Forecast by PV Technology Type

c-Si

As is seen in the graph above, c-Si technology dominates the market, while thin-film technologies are expected to decrease over the period. Colville explains that “there are very few expansions planned for thin-film, and it takes much longer to build a new fab, compared to c-Si.” As a result, Colville explains, “thin-film is somewhat capacity constrained and limited to just a few suppliers that are already in mass production.”

“While cost reduction was the main focus of the PV manufacturing segment during the past two years, the industry is now ideally positioned to finally adopt a common technology roadmap,” Colville said in the NPD press release. “As leading PV producers review capacity additions from 2015 onwards, being able to benchmark proposed technologies will become a critical part of factory tool design and targeted customer groupings.”


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