Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thin film photovoltaics and batteries have reached a technological "tipping point".

Thin film photovoltaics, using inorganic or organic compounds as active layers, represent the most promising technology for significantly beating the cost of conventional solar amorphous or crystalline silicon electrical systems. These technologies have the potential to provide low cost, ac mains solar power by using non-silicon solar cells and low cost plastic substrates. Traditional silicon cell manufacturers have been constrained by the shortage of silicon, high prices of silicon, its weight and fragility and the difficulty of processing it.

See the table at right for more detail on the different types of thin film photovoltaic technologies including CIGS, DSSC and CdTe. These companies are doing extraordinary things with various thin films techniques, usually roll-to-roll (thin film vacuum coating or thin film ink-jet printing).

IDTechEx finds that the market for thin film photovoltaics beyond silicon will reach at least $1 billion in 2012 after a slow ramp up and grow rapidly after that to $6 billion in 2014. The global solar energy market is expected to reach $34 billion in 2010 and $100 billion in 2050 and most of that latter figure will be achieved by non-silicon photovoltaics. The market for printed batteries will reach $170 million in 2012 and $560 million in 2014.


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