Solar profits to be boosted by emergent technologies going forward

Lux Research of Boston, Massachusetts, has predicted that a number of emerging technologies will boost profits in the solar PV sector by 2014.

Generous funding has driven the new technology increasing profitability through a general reduction of cost per watt, the company’s new report has found. The result is that profit margins will return to low double-digit figures by 2014.

The new Disruptive PV Technology Grid quantitatively evaluates new PV technology for their cost reduction potential, calculated in dollars per watt, and the time required for effective marketing up to the point of widespread adoption. The grid has calculated that innovation in materials and cell design will help to stabilize module prices at $0.90 per watt. The cost of solar PV equipment will continue to fall because of improved cell efficiency, cheaper processes and thinner wafers.

The report, entitled Searching for Game Changers in Photovoltaic Materials Innovations: Next-Generatin Technologies that Drive Down $/W predicts emerging technologies will result in module efficiency gains and reduced capital. Lux Research analysts assessed which technologies will be likely ‘game changers’ and which technologies will never see commercial development.

They found that direct solidification will provide cheaper wafers through kerfless wafering (which eliminates loss of silicon through sawing). Direct solidification is a ‘top target’ on the grid with a market size of up to $600 million. 1366 Technologies is the leader with likely commercialization in 2013.

Anti-reflective and light-trapping coatings are also among the top targets with a market size in excess of $600 million. Natcore is the current leader in this field with likely commercialization this year.

In addition there is the prospect of new active layers currently being developed. The most prominent of these is copper zinc tin sulphide (CZTS) cell technology which will deliver cheaper materials and eliminate the use of indium and gallium. Epitaxial Si (epi-Si) technology is a thin monocrystalline silicon with the potential to replace amorphous silicon and with increased efficiencies.

Lux Research provides strategic advice and intelligence of emergent technologies.

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Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Solar electricity