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Thin-film, organic solar creating a buzz

Posted by iMark - 2006-03-26

SAN JOSE, Calif. — The market for thin-film and organic photovoltaics (PV) is projected to be worth over $2.3 billion by 2011, according to NanoMarkets (Glen Allen, Va.), an industry analyst firm.

Companies that use amorphous silicon, non- silicon inorganics or organic polymers/small molecules rely on relatively little or no crystalline polysilicon materials, which are in short supply.

Indeed, thin-film and organic PVs are generating a buzz in the industry. Major multinationals are also supporting this technology, as Honda Motor Co. has announced it will soon start full-scale production of thin-film PV products and Shell Oil plc has just sold off its conventional PV business to focus on thin film.

On the other hand, NanoMarkets points out that thin film and organic PV is also a technology space that has received its fair share of hype and controversy with competing claims by different manufacturers on where and how it can be applied, and disputes over conversion efficiencies and costs per watt.

Still, the technology shows promise. Integrated building and construction products such as PV-enabled roofing and window materials are projected to be the largest market opportunity measuring $800 million by 2011.

On the materials front, amorphous silicon, the best established of the various thin-film PV materials, will represent an $800 million opportunity followed by organic and hybrid organic/inorganic materials and then CIS/CIGS.

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