Thin-Film PV 2.0: Market Outlook Through 2012

by Travis Bradford, Sorin Grama

Thin-Film PV 2.0: Market Outlook Through 2012 is the most comprehensive research report to-date on the explosive thin-film market. In the first half of 2008 alone, over $200 Million in venture capital was poured into the thin-film market, adding to the total of nearly $1 billion invested in the market since 2007. The report estimates that by 2012, thin-film could make up over 40 percent of worldwide PV production and approaching 10 GW of capa city.

The 113-page report, complete with 80 tables, charts and graphs, builds on exclusive primary research and survey data from 137 companies in the PV supply chain, and it includes:

  • Potential versus projected thin-film PV production through 2012, including a projected ranking of the top 20 producers in 2012 and top industry producers by region
  • Complete understanding and comparison of all PV technologies
  • In-depth view of thin-film PV technologies and feedstocks
  • Detailed outlook of the thin-film market, including current and planned capacity, 30 equipment supplier company profiles and relevant market strategies
  • Thorough analysis of thin-film market segments and applications
  • Comprehensive thin-film financial analysis and projections, including price and cost estimates through 2015
  • A future look at emerging thin-film solar technologies and supplier

When the Prometheus Institute issued its landmark thin-film report in July 2007, The Future of Thin-Film Solar, the world was only barely aware of the potential for thin-film PV manufacturers to deliver working product that could be economically financed and installed. By the conclusion of our extensive interviews, even we were surprised with how many thin-film players there were and how close many of them were to commercialization. At the time, however, forecasting costs, efficiencies, and volumes required working with scraps of information and a lot of nuance.

With so much attention being given to these technologies and so much additional progress in and toward commercialization, it is time to re-examine the conclusions of our 2007 report and update our forecasts to incorporate this progress – a process we have been working on for months. This report, Thin-Film PV 2.0, provides the comprehensive results of our 2008 survey of thin-film PV manufacturers and our thoughts about how the PV and thin-film landscape is changing.

The results of our survey show two major trends affecting the overall industry growth. First, while the last year has seen a burst of announcements of new amorphous silicon production lines ordered, the ramp time and output of those lines is somewhat less robust than perhaps was originally believed. The ramp delays should be temporary however, and amorphous silicon is expected to make dramatic gains in production over the next couple years.

The second trend is that overall thin-film production projections are meaningfully higher than in last year’s survey, with all technologies outperforming by 2010 and beyond. Part of the reason for this was our overly conservative methodology, which did not allow for the fast ramp of fully commercial companies (like First Solar) that they had not already announced their future plans to 2010. However, the main driver is the massive amount of VC and corporate venturing capital that has poured into the industry in the last few years and the number of firms that have reached the commercial threshold because of those investments.

Travis Bradford Consultant, President of the Prometheus Institute

Travis Bradford is one of the world’s leading experts on innovative energy technologies, markets, and economics.

Sorin Grama Consultant

Sorin Grama holds a Masters of Science in Engineering and Management from MIT and is the president and co-founder of a renewable energy start-up based in Cambridge, MA.  Before coming to MIT, Sorin worked for 12 years as an engineering consultant and was the co-owner of a systems integration business in California focusing on developing test, measurement and automation systems for a diverse base of clients ranging from biotech to telecom and aerospace.  Sorin researched and co-authored the prior thin-? lm solar report published by the Prometheus Institute and Greentech Media in 2007.

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