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Thursday, October 28, 2010

CIGS to Emerge as the Major Technology by 2020

“Thin - Film Photovoltaic (PV) Cells Market Analysis to 2020 - CIGS (Copper Indium Gallium Diselenide) to Emerge as the Major Technology by 2020”

The Evolving Thin Film industry Growth Trajectory to Gain Further Pace Going Forward

Thin-film PV technology witnessed minimal research activities since early 1980’s. Post this period, it witnessed a constant advancement, in terms of manufacturing technology and materials used. The pursuit of cost-effective electricity generating technology lured major corporations and investors towards thin film PV industry. The industry saw more than 100 companies entering the market between 2001 and 2009. Thin Film PV technology has seen a major development leap from - only being associated with the little strip of PV cells that power calculators to sophisticated BIPV or solar charges for mobile devices. From a mere 14 MW production in 2001 the market has grown to reach 2141 MW in 2009, at a CAGR of 58%. The market outlook for the coming decade appears promising as the major thin film producing countries - Japan, China, and the US - are announcing aggressive support for renewable energy expansion through incentives and regulations. In the retrospect, the Thin Film module production is projected to grow at the rate of 24% from 2009 to reach 22,214 MW production by 2020. 

Saral Gyan, F-Forecast

Thin film technology grabbing increasing share in the Solar Photovoltaic industry

Over the period of time the technology has also been successful in grabbing a growing share of the PV market. Thin film production market share in the global solar PV market grew from a mere 2.8% in 2001 to 25% in 2009, thus dictating a growing share in coming future. Thin film solar PV, as per our estimation, is set to increase its share to ~38% by 2020. Expectations are that in the long-term, thin film solar PV technology would surpass dominating conventional solar PV technology, thus enabling the long sought-after grid parity objective.

Saral Gyan, F-Forecast

CIGS – The future market leader

CIGS technology is getting more popular than other thin-film technologies due to its higher efficiency and reduced manufacturing costs. The success of CIGS cells depends on the efficiency, faster and cheaper manufacturing process. The future of CIGS technology is encouraging as a lot of venture capitalist firms are investing in this technology. Investments in excess of $2 billion have already been made for the CIGS market development by various companies.

CIGS will most likely be the face of thin film solar PV technology in the future. The technology’s value proposition is that it offers, combined advantages of both c-Si, which gives relatively good efficiency and thin-film PV technologies, which claim potential advantages on cost, flexibility, weight, and manufacturability. From 2010, CIGS segment is expected to capture the maximum share in the thin film module market as most of the CIGS manufacturers will begin to attain production cost and conversion efficiencies on par with other thin film technologies especially Cdte. 

Saral Gyan, F-Forecast

Market Expansion Coupled with the Entry of New Players Driving Growth

With over 160 companies producing thin-film solar cells and modules worldwide, the market includes a number of big players with many years of experience and expanding production capacities (First Solar, Kaneka, Mitsubishi, United Solar etc.). There are also a handful of newcomers, a small number of which have the potential to develop into significant players. Many of these companies are ‘pure players’, but a lot of companies already that are established in silicon technology are also attempting to enter the thin-film technology market. Many manufacturers (such as Sharp, ErSol and Q-Cells) see the expansion of their thin-film activities as a type of hedging to their existing technology portfolio, while others are dedicated solely to this technology (e.g. Würth Solar, Kaneka, First Solar and Shell). Thus, with the increasing number of manufacturers focusing on this market would eventually lead to major growth in the near future.

Low Efficiency of Thin Film Technologies is a Significant Inhibitor

Due to the low efficiency levels of the thin film technologies, their cost effectiveness is not competitive at present. Therefore, competing with electricity cost generated through conventional sources of energy is currently not possible for thin film technology manufacturers. This has led to uncertainty in technology demand going forward into the future. Coupled with this, capital constraints due to global financial crunch, has led banks and manufacturers, to shy away from financing thin film technology in favor of more mature and abundant crystalline silicon modules for projects in 2009, which may continue in the coming future, resulting in narrowing the thin film expansion.

Competitive landscape

Most of the significant thin film module producers use the aSi technology which indicates the effectiveness and innovative potential of this mature technology. While number of companies in a-Si production are larger than other thin film technologies, Cdte technology emerged as a potential challenger and garnered maximum market share in 2009 with First Solar being the market leader. First Solar’s module production was five times the production of the nearest competitor, United Solar. Only one company from the top 10 companies produced significant amount of CIGS modules in 2009, Wuerth Solar. The production numbers for CIGS are expected to change significantly going forward as new entrants plan to begin the production ramp-up, coupled with extensive investment inflow in this segment.

Country like India is the late entrant in Solar thin film industry at global level. Currently developed countries like US, Japan and China are way ahead of India in terms of Solar technology usage. But India have the true potential to contribute locally and globally in this emerging segment. Indian companies operating in this sector already ramp up their productions and do plan for further expansions to catch up the growing demand in this space. Sooner than later, green revolution has already started and making its strong foot prints in country like India along with other developed nations.

One of the small cap company has recently entered into manufacturing of solar panels with promising CIGS technology whereas most of other indian companies in this segment operate with conventional solar PV technology. It's for sure that CIGS technology will lead the race because of low raw material cost and high efficiency of solar products. The stock of this company was recommended by Saral Gyan team under paid subscription services - Hidden Gems couple of months back. We suggest all our Hidden Gems subscribers to hold the stock for a period of minimum 2 to 5 years as the company has the potential to deliver exponential returns on your investment in near future.

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