Report: Thin-film solar firms need >12% efficiency, or else

October 19, 2007 – Thin-film solar cell makers will need to deliver power conversion rates of 12%-13%+ if they want to remain viable, according to a top exec at Japanese solar module maker Kaneka.

Kaneka’s division executive officer Mikio Hatta, quoted by Digitimes, noted that the company is being cautious about all the attention being paid to thin-film technology, and that since the market is still in start-up mode many of the challenges are about sales and promotion. Thin-film represents about 20% of the total PV market, he noted — assuming an estimated 10 billion watt equivalent capacity for all PV in 2010, that means 2B for thin-film solar production, and Hatta doubted whether the market can consume that much capacity.

Kaneka sells hybrid thin-film solar cells with power conversion of 12%, and half of its planned 70 peak MW capacity next year will come from these hybrid cells, which sandwich a transparent intermediate layer between layers of amorphous silicon and thin-film polysilicon. The rest of the company’s capacity will be for noncrystalline solar cells with ~8% power conversion rates.

Digitimes noted that Sharp plans 1 peak GW thin-film solar cell capacity by 2010, in a bid to take half the market share. Rivals include Kaneka and United Solar Ovonic, as well as new and existing players in the crystalline silicon-based segment.


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