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Solar cell industry will buy 35 GWp of equipment by 2017

Yole Développement says 35 GWp of new solar photovoltaic (PV) cell manufacturing equipment will be purchased by 2017, in its report Crystalline Silicon PV: Technology, Equipment & Materials.

By Kari Williamson

In the years to come, the manufacturing cost reduction in the solar PV industry will be led by equipment and material innovations, the analyst says.

It therefore believes that part of today's solar cell manufacturing capacity will be shut down or used at lower rates, and will be replaced or supplemented by new equipment suited for high-efficiency solar cell and module production.

Staying afloat in a difficult market

With market oversupply and reduced incentives in key markets, the solar PV industry is facing tough times. This will increase the focus on newer, higher efficiency solar cells, the report suggests.

“Today, the key objective of PV manufacturers is no longer to increase their production capacities, but to differentiate themselves from their competitors in an overcrowded market thanks to added value products (with lower price, higher efficiency…),” explains Milan Rosina, Technology & Market Analyst, Photovoltaics at Yole Développement.

c-Si wasn't dead

As photovoltaics becomes a commodity market and many different solar PV products have become commercially available, the 'old' vision of a PV technology development in which thin-film technologies would progressively increase their market shares has become obsolete, the analyst says.

Over the last few years the technology progress in crystalline silicon (c-Si) technology has surpassed all expectations, and c-Si modules are now available at prices close or even lower than US$1/Wp. This is comparable to the price of thin-film modules, but c-Si can boast higher efficiencies.

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