Which CIGS Manufacturers Will Rise To The Top As The Market Expands?


The market for solar installations based on copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) thin-film panels will nearly double in size to $2.35 billion in 2015, according to a new report from Lux Research.

Manufacturers signaled a breakout year in 2011 by taking advantage of falling production costs, improving module conversion efficiencies and increasing adoption in commercial rooftops.

Lux Research says CIGS technology is emerging into an early-growth phase and will benefit from a surge in demand to nearly 2.3 GW in 2015, nearly double the current 1.2 GW level. However, it will still face numerous challenges, including a sharp fall in venture capital money.

In the emerging environment, few manufacturers – among them, Solar Frontier, Avancis, and Solibro – are expected to succeed, mainly through strategic partnerships and investments that are critical to ramp capacities and improve production processes.

‘Manufacturers have begun ramping meaningful capacities, and there have been tremendous improvements in module efficiency,’ says Pallavi Madakasira, Lux Research analyst and lead author of the report. ‘Now, strategic partnerships between start-ups and industrial conglomerates are likely to determine this technology's overall viability and competitiveness.’

According to Lux Research's analysis, Solar Frontier is a clear winner, having been deemed ‘dominant’ and emerging as the only firm to earn a ‘strong positive’ take. With inroads into new and emerging markets such as India, where it is selling over 30 MW of panels, Solar Frontier excels in overall execution.

Global Solar, Avancis and Solibro are likely to emerge as bankable players and consolidate. Global Solar has demonstrated slow but steady progress and is currently selling its PowerFLEX Technology, a shingle product, to Dow. Still, to succeed it needs to adopt a less conservative approach, Lux Research says.

Avancis has a joint venture with Hyundai Heavy Industries for CIGS module production in Asia. As for Solibro, it will need to quickly and independently strengthen its financial position to succeed, according to the report.

Lux Research also believes that Stion, Miasole and Nuvosun can emerge as champions. All three were ranked ‘dominant,’ with the potential to emerge as early champions in this technology. However, their success will depend on capacity utilization and ramp-up, customer relationships, strategic partnerships and consistent execution in terms of their module costs, yield and module efficiency.

ISET, Flisom and AQT can be acquisition targets. All three are ‘high-potential’ companies – firms with strong technical value but weaker business execution scores – and have assets that make them prized acquisition targets.

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