The market for thin film solar PV is expected to register a significant growth on account of low-cost manufacturing of Cadmium Telluride-based thin solar film PV, along with high efficiency on glass or flexible substrates.
Thin film type of solar PV reduces the amount of material present in the cell. This helps to sandwich the material between two glasses and makes it compact.
With the annual production estimated to reach 500GW by 2020, from 40 GW in 2013, this market is expected to be the fastest growing market. It is a billion dollar market, with China leading the market for photovoltaic cells. Germany is one of the leading countries for installation of photovoltaics; it has an installed capacity of 37 GW. It leads the pack with China, United States, Japan, and Italy close on its heels.
With fossil fuel prices fluctuating continuously and disasters, like Fukushima and Chernobyl raising serious questions about nuclear power, renewable sources of energy are the answer to the world’s growing need for power. Environmental concerns are associated with hydro power; apart from water, the sun is the other abundant source for renewable energy. The earth receives 174 petawatt of solar energy every year. It is the largest energy source on earth. Other resources, like oil & gas, water, coal, etc., require lot of effort and steps to produce electricity. Solar energy farms can be established easily, which can harness electricity and the electricity produced is simply given to the grid.
The main concern regarding solar power is the initial cost of photovoltaic cells. This cost incurred is a one-time investment, and solar panels have a very negligible maintenance cost. There are other concerns, like solar power is an intermittent energy source. This problem can be addressed by installing battery storage system along with solar plants.
In 2015, during the Paris Agreement climate deal, 195 countries signed the deal. It was decided to limit the global average temperature rise to 1.5°C till the year 2100, by reducing carbon emissions. Even though, the United States has decided to pull out of the agreement, other countries, such as China and India, are still optimistic about the success of the agreement.
The growth of these technologies is also being driven by newer applications of solar panels, such as for building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV), rooftops / facades, and applications that demand more flexibility, as well as low angle installations. As the demand for solar PV continues to rise at a steady pace, the future of the thin film PV industry is optimistic.
In the recent years, lot of research has been conducted in this field to make production easier and also to make the solar panels smaller and more customer friendly. Significant effort is being put to increase the efficiency of solar panels, which used to have a very meagre efficiency percentage. Different techniques, like nano-crystalline solar cells, thin film processing, metamorphic multi-junction solar cell, polymer processing, etc., will help the future of this industry.
Major Players: Solar Power Systems Inc., Kaneka Corporation, Jumao Photonics, JS Solar, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Nano PV, NexPower Technology, Stion, Sun Well, SunLab Power, Triton Solar, among others.
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