Friday, May 9, 2014

What Is The Future Of Silicon Thin-Film Solar Technology?

The future of silicon thin-film solar technology is looking bleak and expected to go downtrend. 

DuPont has decided to terminate their silicon thin-film operations by the end of 2014. Silicon thin-film market share is likely to keep falling in the short run, according to the analysis of EnergyTrend.

The price gap between silicon thin-film and crystalline silicon has been narrowing. According to Arthur Hsu from EnergyTrend silicon thin-film's price is quoted at US$0.58/watt while crystalline is at US$0.6/watt. The difference has decreased from the original US$0.1/watt to now only US$0.02/watt. Silicon thin-film has lost its price competitiveness. Meanwhile, crystalline silicon conversion efficiency is around 17.2% while thin-film remains at 8% to 10%. Efficiency gap between the two will continue to increase as crystalline  silicon's efficiency goes up.

Another reason leading to the closing of silicon thin-film operations is the halting of new technology development by equipment manufacturers. In fact, relevant manufacturers were hoping to rely on Tandem technology’s commercialization to improve silicon thin-film's efficiency. However, after acquiring Oerlikon’s thin-film business, Tokyo Electron has ended Tandem technology development, which crushed thin-film manufacturers’ final hope.

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