2012-2013 was a tough time for most PV manufacturers, as they faced difficulties due to strongly decreasing market prices resulting from an overcrowded market and high total manufacturing overcapacities. During this period the industry was focused on securing short-term sales, and there was little investment in new equipment and R&D activities. But now the PV market is showing signs of renewed optimism. Investors are renewing their interest in PV start-up companies developing emerging PV technologies and applications. Equipment makers are finding new opportunities in equipment sales, either to increase production capacity in existing facilities or to build new ones. Big players, especially in China, are increasing their acquisition activities in order to secure a competitive advantage.
All of these developments open new opportunities for R&D funding, and the possibility to transfer R&D achievements into an industrial environment. At the same time, the increased performance and decreasing cost of PV components and systems will allow for new applications and wider use of solar photovoltaic technologies for electricity generation.
Although photovoltaics (PV) has reached a relatively high level of technological maturity, with many PV products commercially available today, strong efforts are underway to develop new solar cell technologies, to improve the performance of existing ones and to develop new applications for solar cells.
Solar Photovoltaic Technologies and PV Market Trends
In this report, the PV industry’s main technology and market trends are presented, and the suitability of different PV technologies (crystalline silicon, CIGS, organic PV, etc.) for various applications is analyzed – with a focus on existing potential for further innovations.
For most conventional applications, where PV serves solely to generate electricity, it’s difficult to compete with continuously improving crystalline silicon technology, which dominates the PV market (>85% market share). Therefore, most developers of alternative PV technologies are focused on other PV functionalities (flexibility, color, low-light performance, indoor light performance, etc.) and on alternative application segments. Moreover, tandem and multijunction hybrid approaches, such as a multijunction solar cell, are also being studied.
The large number of process steps in PV product manufacturing provides great potential for innovative solutions: by avoiding, replacing, improving or adding process steps and materials used, a combination of many “small” improvements can lead to better performance and lower manufacturing costs.
Details of the new report, table of contents and ordering information can be found on Electronics.ca Publications’ web site. View the report: Emerging and Innovative Approaches in Photovoltaics.