August 8, 2007 – The global thin-film photovoltaics (PV) market stands at just over $1 billion today, but should surge to $7.2 billion by 2015, driven by the technology’s low cost and weight, and ability to manufacture the films on flexible substrates to increase their usability, according to a report from NanoMarkets LLC.
As PV continues to improve efficiency and lower costs (while prices rise for other energy sources, i.e. fossil fuels), PV eventually could account for as much as 20% of the US market’s energy needs, the firm suggests. Thin-film PV made up only 5% of the total PV market a few years ago, but could soar to 35% by 2015, finding an early market foothold because it costs less than conventional PV using crystalline silicon, it can be made with simple printing or roll-to-roll manufacturing techniques to keep capital costs down (by as much as 75%), and is lighter and more easily applied to nonplanar surfaces such as roofs, walls, and even windows.
In response to demand, many thin-film PV manufacturers are ramping production capacity, with several adding new >100MW plants (First Solar, Fuji Electric, Nanosolar, Sanyo, Uni-Solar, and G24i), the report notes.
PV based on organic materials, which are also more ecologically friendly than other PV approaches, are seeing improved efficiencies and new cell architectures that could approach or exceed inorganic PV technology, NanoMarkets says, noting that organic PV shipments could reach 500MW by 2015.