Despite the end of the silicon shortage and ongoing economic woes, the thin-film PV (TFPV) materials markets will generate $5.9 billion in 2016 compared to $2.1 billion in 2011, according to a new report from NanoMarkets.
The report includes its latest projections on material sales for thin-film silicon (TF Si), cadmium telluride (CdTe) and copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) PV. NanoMarkets believes that, despite its maturity, TF Si PV will retain its competitiveness as this technology shifts toward using tandem cells using microcrystalline silicon. Key beneficiaries of this shift will be silane suppliers. Revenues from TF Si PV absorber materials will reach approximately $975 million by 2016.
However, by 2016, the largest segment of the TFPV material sector will be CdTe absorber materials, which, by then, will reach $1.6 billion. This represents an important opportunity for suppliers of CdTe materials to qualify as a supplier to the dominant CdTe panel maker, First Solar, which is increasingly in need of more materials sources, the report says. The growing use of tellurium also presents an opportunity for companies in the copper- and lead-refining industries, because tellurium is primarily a byproduct of refining these ores.
Despite the disappointments of the past, NanoMarkets believes product and manufacturing announcements over the past year have begun to vindicate the CIGS story. Dow's CIGS-based building-integrated PV product and TSMC's entry into the CIGS area promise a better future for CIGS. As a result, absorber materials sold into this space are expected to reach approximately $610 million by 2016.
NanoMarkets also predicts success for CIGS electrodeposition, which the company says is well matched to improve the cost performance of CIGS in a low-demand economy.