Photovoltaic: Global Markets and Technologies

The value of materials was estimated at $21.8 million in 2009 and $26.5 million in 2010. Improved manufacturing methods and efficiencies will reduce the actual quantities of materials used in solar cells and the value of materials will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.3% through 2015 to reach a value of $47 million.

The value of global module shipments was estimated at $32.4 million in 2009 and $41.2 million in 2010. The value of shipments will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.6% from 2010 to 2015 because of economies of scale and more efficient PV production methods, reaching a value of nearly $78 million.

PV technology dates back to the 1950s and the advent of the space program, but the concerted effort to develop this technology for industry and consumer use began during the oil embargoes of the 1970s. The eventual stabilization of oil prices had a dampening effect on investment, tax credits, and government funding for research and development.

Despite these challenges, the development of PV and its materials continued and, in the late 1990s, R&D funding, cost-shared programs, and industry activity once again increased. The growth rate of this technology has been exceptionally high reaching annual growth rates of 30% to 40% and higher over the past two decades.

In the first decade of the 21st century, oil prices surged as demand rose at unprecedented rates. PV once again took the spotlight as an emerging technology. Companies in the PV business have focused on reaching grid parity-the meeting of cost for fossil fuel and solar energy-as a way to broaden the scope of PV. Nations and individual states began to offer serious incentives such as tariffs and tax credits for solar customers. Consequently, we were interested in looking at this industry once again to chart its potential.

The scope of this study encompasses the major PV technologies monocrystalline silicon, multicrystalline silicon, thin films (e.g., amorphous silicon, cadmium telluride, copper indium diselenide), compound semiconductor materials (e.g., gallium arsenide) and emerging approaches such as nanostructured films, dye-sensitized solar cells and organic technologies. BCC Research analyzes each technology, examines its current and potential efficiency, assesses the current market status of each, examines its future market impact, and presents shipments of PV cells and their values for 2009, 2010 and 2015. Various technical issues are discussed and a thorough economic analysis of each technology and its impact on future growth is presented.

In this report, we analyze the PV industry on a global basis, including manufacturing capacity and consumption by various regional markets. We examine government funding and support, industry involvement, standards, the environmental impact of solar energy, and the impact of incentives to use PV. We also discuss the potential for applications-both grid-connected and standalone. Projections of cell and module shipments by major applications are also presented for the 3 years covered in our study.

Both primary and secondary research methodologies were used in preparing this study. BCC Research presents an analysis for each PV technology of the number of cells, measured in megawatts, shipped in 2009. Our estimated values are what manufacturers have paid in undepreciated dollars. Then, based on our surveys, we analyze the potential for each technology, and forecast shipments for 2010 and 2015. We also analyze the cost of manufacturing the cells and modules and present an estimated value of shipments over the forecast period. We do the same analysis for key materials used in PV technology.