The total market for transparent conductors (TCs) in PV is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of over 30% from a value of about $90 million in 2012 to about $300 million in 2016, according to a new report from NanoMarkets.
The report analyzes the opportunities for TCs in the thin-film PV, organic PV (OPV) and dye-sensitized solar cell (DSC) markets. The focus of the report is on the shifting market share of different types of TCs in the different PV segments.
Although the overall PV market is entering a period of slow growth, there is still good news for TC suppliers, NanoMarkets says. The thin-film and OPV sectors, which use TCs, are gaining share versus crystalline silicon PV. Furthermore, the report predicts that the pace of growth in the thin-film PV markets will offset declines related to decreasing government support and slow overall economic growth.
Indium-free ‘alt-transparent conductive oxides (TCOs)’ will continue to take market share away from indium-tin-oxide (ITO) TCOs in the PV sector, as indium-free TCOs cause minimal disruption to existing production methods.
Some indium-free TCOs are better suited than ITO TCOs to particular PV types based on their lower cost, commodity scale availability, processing temperature window or work-function match to the rest of the thin-film cell, NanoMarkets adds. Alt-TCOs are expected to generate nearly $100 million from PV applications by 2016.
Implementation of new TCO target systems or new deposition processes – such as by transitioning from conventional planar targets to more-efficient rotary targets wherever possible – could greatly improve utilization rates and directly affect the bottom line for panel makers.
Both TC and equipment suppliers can partner with panel makers on the optimization of existing deposition processes to maximize TC mobility. According to NanoMarkets, these types of partnerships would improve cost-per-watt values and increase the competitiveness of a particular thin-film PV technology for on-grid installations.
NanoMarkets concludes that the biggest prospects for TCs – at least in the long term – lie with solution-processable nanomaterial-based TCs, such as those based on nanosilver, another nanoscale metallic coating or carbon nanomaterials.
Solution processing is expected to be especially attractive for new PV lines where existing vapor deposition equipment is not already entrenched, and solution-processable TCs will become an even bigger factor as the relative importance of flexible PV increases over the next decade.
NanoMarkets predicts that nanomaterial-based TCs can generate almost $50 million from PV applications by 2016.