After the shakeout of the thin-film photovoltaics (TFPV) industry this year, industry analysis firm NanoMarkets LC sees a resumption of growth occurring in 2010, creating opportunities for materials firms of all kinds. According to the company's recent report on TFPV materials, consumption of these materials is now expected to rise to $13.1 billion by 2017.
Copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) and cadmium telluride (CdTe) have always been sensitive to the atmosphere, especially when used in flexible cells, NanoMarkets says. However, new kinds of encapsulation materials are now opening up the market for CIGS and CdTe in flexible building-integrated photovoltaics applications.
Announcements of polymer/ceramic dyad films came this year from Dow Chemical, FujiFilm, DuPont and 3M. By 2017, sales of TFPV encapsulation materials are expected to reach $1.6 billion.
The TFPV industry is rapidly moving away from the use of indium tin oxide as a transparent conductor, the report adds. The big beneficiaries in this move will be zinc oxide and tin oxide, whose use is expected to bring major cost savings for the industry. By 2017, almost 90% of the transparent conductor material used by the TFPV industry is expected to be zinc oxide or tin oxide.
According to NanoMarkets, sputtering is on the decline for TFPV manufacturing, primarily because of the material wastage. Printing is on the increase, but the true unsung hero of TFPV manufacturing is electrodeposition, which is rapidly growing and proving itself worthy of widespread use. By 2017, TFPV absorber materials that are either printed or electrodeposited will amount to almost $300 million.