After falling 15% in 2012, solar photovoltaic wafer production is forecast to grow 19% in 2013, passing 30 GW and recovering to the 2011 level, according to the latest NPD Solarbuzz Polysilicon and Wafer Supply Chain Quarterly. However, industry utilization is expected to remain below 60%, and while prices have stopped falling, no significant increases are expected, so profitability for wafer makers will remain challenging.
Multicrystalline silicon (multi c-Si) technology is forecast to continue its dominance of the wafer market in the short to mid-term. However, the higher efficiency solar cells that can be produced using monocrystalline silicon (mono c-Si) wafers continue to be in demand for applications where space is restricted. The higher efficiencies enable pricing at a premium over standard multi c-Si modules. In particular, rapid growth in the Japanese market is creating demand for premium efficiency modules that use mono c-Si wafers.
Figure 1: Crystalline Silicon (c-Si) Wafer Production Forecast by Technology
Source: NPD Solarbuzz Q1