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Examining Current State of Thin-Film Photovoltaics Internationally

Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "Worldwide Thin-Film Photovoltaics - Current Status and R+D" report to their offering.

Conventional bulk silicon based PV cells have been used since the 1960s and have undergone substantial developments, however they are the most costly to manufacture especially in light of the current worldwide silicon shortage. These cells types accounted for more than 83 percent of the market share in 2007. Thin-film PV cells have been evolving since the early 1970s, and organics PV cells since the 1990s and accounted for about 17 percent of the total PV market in 2007, making it one of the fast growing technologies in the whole of the alternative energy sector. These cells are made by directly depositing photoactive material onto a thin substrate, and are therefore much thinner and require less material than conventional PV cells and offer increasing efficiencies. There are several important thin-film PV cell types: amorphous silicon (a-Si); cadmium telluride (CdTe); and copper indium diselenide/copper indium gallium diselenide (CIS / CIGS), and also organic systems. In 2007, NREL demonstrated CIGS PV cells with 19.9 percent efficiency, which is still very far from that reported by University of Delaware researchers for crystalline silicon (42.8 percent), but nonetheless demonstrates the tremendous potential for thin-film PV and its great applicability in many applications.

Key drivers enabling the development and use of organic and thin-film PV cells include government programs, silicon costs and availability.

The current main thin-film PV technologies accounted for about 17 percent of the total PV market in 2007, and this is expected to increase to more than 32 percent (about 4 GW) by 2013. A number of activities being carried out by organizations in the PV sector are helping the development of this emerging market.

The prospects for organic-based PV devices are continuing to improve as development gets closer to commercialization, and an efficiency of 8-10 percent is likely in the foreseeable future. The success of organic and thin-film PVs will depend on their ability to be cost-competitive when compared with existing electrical sources such as rigid PVs and batteries, and with emerging technologies such as fuel cells.

Thin-film PV cells based on crystalline and amorphous silicon, CdTe, and CIGS are in various phases of manufacture, and it is expected that they will achieve the cost reductions needed to compete directly with the other forms of energy. These reductions will become more significant when thin-film technologies are produced directly on building materials such as tiles and bricks.

PV applications can be roughly divided into three categories, those involving: power generation installations, conventional electronics and disposable electronics.

For the large-scale applications of PV in both building installed PV, rural electrification and irrigation pumps projects PV manufacturing costs must be reduced by at least a factor of two. As production costs decline, demand for PV electricity will outstrip system supply.

Key Topics Covered:

Executive Summary Chapter 1: Introduction and Methodology Chapter 2: PV Technology and Developer Overview Chapter 3: Thin-Film PV Materials and Properties: Developer's Positioning Chapter 4: Manufacturing Overview Chapter 5: Commercial Applications Chapter 6: Worldwide Market outlook Chapter 7: Ongoing R&D and Development Trends by Product Segment Chapter 8: Key Findings in this Report Chapter 9: Leading Photovoltaic Material and Cell Suppliers


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