David Kirkpatrick

March 24, 2010

GE getting into thin-film solar field

This can only mean advances in production and manufacturing coupled with a likely cost reduction. A win for the field since GE is going to bring to bear its corporate might on process improvements.

From the link:

GE has confirmed long-standing speculation that it plans to make thin-film solar panels that use a cadmium- and tellurium-based semiconductor to capture light and convert it into electricity. The GE move could put pressure on the only major cadmium-telluride solar-panel maker, Tempe, AZ-based First Solar, which could drive down prices for solar panels.

Last year, GE seemed to be getting out of the solar industry as it sold off crystalline-silicon solar-panel factories it had acquired in 2004. The company found that the market for such solar panels–which account for most of the solar panels sold worldwide–was too competitive for a relative newcomer, says Danielle Merfeld, GE’s solar technology platform leader.


February 19, 2010

Broadband Solar offers latest breakthrough

Seems like I’ve been doing a whole lot of solar blogging lately, and here’s the latest breakthrough courtesy of Broadband Solar. This sounds more like an incremental improvement that will possibly lead to commercially viable thin-film solar cells rather than a game-changer ready for market. Even if this announcement doesn’t make it immediately easier or cheaper to put a bank of thin-film cells on the roof of your house, it is one more step toward that goal

From the second link:

Inexpensive thin-film solar cells aren’t as efficient as conventional solar cells, but a new coating that incorporates nanoscale metallic particles could help close the gap. Broadband Solar, a startup spun out of Stanford University late last year, is developing coatings that increase the amount of light these solar cells absorb.

Based on computer models and initial experiments, an amorphous silicon cell could jump from converting about 8 percent of the energy in light into electricity to converting around 12 percent. That would make such cells competitive with the leading thin-film solar cells produced today, such as those made by First Solar, headquartered in Tempe, AZ, says Cyrus Wadia, codirector of the Cleantech to Market Program in the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. Amorphous silicon has the advantage of being much more abundant than the materials used by First Solar. The coatings could also be applied to other types of thin-film solar cells, including First Solar’s, to increase their efficiency.

Solar antenna: The square at the center is an array of test solar cells being used to evaluate a coating that contains metallic nanoantennas tuned to the solar spectrum.
Credit: Brongersma lab, Stanford

December 10, 2008

Thin film solar cell market heading toward $5B by 2011

The release:

Revised NanoMarkets Numbers Show Thin Film Photovoltaic Cell Market at $4.6 Billion by 2011

GLEN ALLEN, Va., Dec. 10 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — NanoMarkets, a leading industry analyst firm based here, today announced it has released an updated analysis of the thin-film photovoltaics (TFPV) markets.  The firm projects that after a few lean years in 2009 and 2010 for the TFPV business higher growth rates will return in 2011.  The firm’s new analysis and forecast projects revenues of $4.6 billion in 2011 that will grow to just over $14 billion in 2015.  Additional details about the report are available at www.nanomarkets.net.

Key Insights:

According to NanoMarkets, several factors are combining to make the near-term prospects for TFPV less rosy than had once been hoped.  The global economic situation is having wide ranging impacts on the thin-film solar business.  The recession in the construction industry will dampen demand for solar panels in 2009 and 2010,  depressed oil prices will make it harder to make the case for solar and other forms of alternative energies and competition for capital will limit funding for R&D.  Furthermore, the shortage of crystalline silicon that was one of the initial drivers for TFPV has been resolved.  Add in the capacity that is coming on line to meet expected demand and the market certainly has factors to overcome.

Nonetheless, NanoMarkets does not believe that the thin-film solar business will evaporate.  The unique combination of flexibility, low weight and low cost promised by TFPV will enable the technology to continue to penetrate the solar market as a whole.   First Solar has already demonstrated how commercially successful its thin-film CdTe cell technology can be and NanoMarkets also expects to see a major ramp up in CIGS solar panels in the early 2011 timeframe.   Indeed, as CIGS begins to fulfill its mission of combining high efficiencies with all the advantages of TFPV, NanoMarkets expects firms that are now focused on other materials platforms to switch to CIGS.

About the Report:

NanoMarkets’ report, Thin Film Photovoltaics Markets: 2008 and Beyond (Revised Edition) quantifies the opportunities for PV based on amorphous and other forms of thin-film silicon, CdTe, CIS/CIGS, GaAs as well as novel thin-film materials such as nanomaterials.  Applications for TFPV discussed in this report include electric utilities, commercial and industrial buildings, residential buildings, and military and emergency applications.

Detailed volume and value forecasts are provided for each application.  In addition, the report includes possible high-end and low-end scenarios for TFPV markets. These scenarios enable the TFPV community to plan successfully for the highly uncertain future that they now face. We have also included revised discussions of influential suppliers of TFPV products taking into account announcements and developments since the original version of this report. This new analysis shows the latest thinking on TFPV product development and R&D.

About NanoMarkets:

NanoMarkets tracks and analyzes emerging market opportunities in electronics created by developments in advanced materials. The firm has published numerous reports related to organic, thin film and printable electronics materials and applications and maintains a blog at www.nanotopblog.com that comments on industry trends and events. NanoMarkets research database is the industry’s most extensive source of information on thin film, organic and printable (TOP) electronics. Visit www.nanomarkets.net for a full listing of NanoMarkets’ reports and other services.

Source: NanoMarkets
   Web site:  http://www.nanomarkets.net/

August 11, 2008

$1 watt solar breakthrough looming

Filed under: Science — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:33 pm

From KurzweilAI.net:

First Solar: Quest for the $1 Watt
IEEE Spectrum, August 2008

First Solar’s solar cells will likely meet typical grid-parity prices ($1/Watt) for the off-peak market in developed countries in just two to four years, analysts say.

Its product has three massive cost benefits: its ­active element is just a hundredth the thickness of silicon; it is built on a glass substrate, which enables the production of large panels; and manufacturing takes just two and a half hours–about a tenth the time it takes for silicon equivalents.

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