In PV industry, crystalline silicon (single- and multicrystalline) bulk material dominates the market with over 90% market share.
The difficulty in securing a feedstock supply to produce conventional wafer-based solar cells has encouraged a frenzy of industry projects related to thin-film solar cells.
WTC, a technology consulting company based in Munich, Germany, has counted some 34 companies developing and in some cases building production lines for thin-film cells.
Last year saw First Solar, Nanosolar, Schott Solar, and ERSOL announce investments in the range of $100 million each to build new thin-film plants.
At this pace, thin-film cells could represent about 20% of the PV technology installed (on a year to year basis) worldwide in 2012.WTC estimates that the market for thin-film cells is set to explode in the next few years, reaching $1.5 billion in 2012.
While the USA has been steadily loosing ground to Japan and Europe in wafer-based cells, about half of the thin-film cells are made by US companies an this share is expected to remain high (although the production may not be located in the US).
A timely move is to join forces in Europe and provide one of the thin-film PV manufacturers, CSG Solar AG, with novel silicon thin film material that can be produced at competitive costs and efficiencies >10%.