Global Thin Film Photovoltaics (PV) market is expected to grow significantly over the forecast period owing to the speedy advancements in thin film technology. The most common types of PV cells used worldwide are thin film PV cells and crystalline silicon. Formerly, market was ruled by crystalline silicon PV cells. However, thin film has gained popularity in the recent past. Thin film PV primarily consists of copper-indium diselenide (CIS), amorphous silicon (a-Si), cadmium telluride (CdTe) and copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS).
Photovoltaics are also known as solar cells. They are electronic devices which directly converts sunlight into electricity. Thin film photovoltaics are made by putting one or more thin layers of photovoltaic (PV) material on a substrate such as plastic, metal or glass. Thickness of the film can range from few nanometers to micrometers. This is relatively thinner than its competitor’s crystalline silicon solar cells technology which uses wafers up to 200 micrometers. This permits thin film cells to be lower in weight, flexible and have less friction or drag. It can be used as a semi-transparent photovoltaic glazing material that can be plastic-coated on the windows.
Photovoltaics incur relatively less operating costs and are reliable, safe and can be easily installed. The quest for economical technology for generating electricity attracted major investors and corporations towards thin film PV – advanced technologies industry. The industry witnessed over 100 companies entering into the market. There was a growing need for thin film PV advanced technologies to constantly increase its productivity. This led to high energy production and lower system costs. Manufacturing costs must also be pulled down to attain competitive pricing. The growth of global thin film photovoltaics – advanced technologies market is driven by optimal efficiency and low manufacturing costs of PV cells.
There has been an increased alarm about change in climate and alternative sources of energy, which is expected to augment the demand for thin film PV – advanced technologies. Higher yields of thin film photovoltaic for shadow, weak lighting conditions and installation options that are visually attractive are expected to drive the industry. Market is poised for growth owing to the incentives and funding provided by the government for adopting solar energy so as to generate electricity. Factors such as low consumption of silicon, building mounted systems, initiatives by the government and the ground emergence may favorably impact the market growth. The year 2015 saw installations of around 52 gigawatts (GW) of new capacities all over the world.
However, multi junction PV cells and low conversion efficiency are anticipated to restrain market growth. Few other factors such as high costs of capital, poor maintenance and poor installation are expected to create major hindrance for thin film PV – advanced technologies demand in the market. Global thin film PV – advanced technologies market is segmented based on its type which includes organic and inorganic photovoltaics. Based on its application, thin film PV market is segmented into utility, military, consumer, residential and non-residential sectors. Furthermore, the utility sector is sub-characterized into power plant application, industrial applications, military and defense applications. Power supply connected to the line grid is anticipated to be the market leader of thin film PV over the forecast period.
The European region has been leading the market of thin film photovoltaics over the past few years. Countries such as Italy, Spain and Germany majorly witnessed an increased demand of solar energy making Europe the market leader. North America and Europe have been projected to witness a very high growth rate over the forecast period owing to early adoption of advancements in the technology. Asia Pacific is also expected to follow North America and Europe as there has been an increased adoption of semiconductors by the electronics industry. Emerging economies such as India, China, Africa and Brazil are projected to show their presence in the market over the next seven years.
Key industry participants are coming up with innovative techniques to cater to the existing hindrances in the market. Major industry participants in the thin film PV – advanced technologies market include Kaneka Corporation, Unisolar, First Solar, Bosh Solar, Kyocera Corporation, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, Panasonic Corporation ReneSola Co. Ltd., Jinko Solar, Yingli Green Treena Solar, Kaneka corporation, Sharp Corporation, JA Solar Co. Ltd. and Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. In due course, global thin film photovoltaics –advanced technologies market is expected to outshine the dominating conventional solar photovoltaic technology. This will enable the long coveted objective of grid parity.
Research Support Specialist, USA