NanoMarkets provides market research and industry analysis of opportunities within advanced materials and emerging energy and electronics markets
The turnaround in the PV (photovoltaic) sector has been visible since the second half of 2013. And while 2013 was not a great year the solar industry, including BIPV (Building-Integrated Photovoltaics) in general and BIPV glass in particular is beginning to pick up. While many firms offering BIPV glass have gone under, the ones that emerged from the solar bust are still faced with the same problem; how to get their products into the mainstream construction market and not just prestige buildings.
Smart coatings on glass and other substrates have the potential to create added value in a huge range of applications, but this can only be realized if they can provide sufficient performance enhancement at the right price. In the energy industry, the key driver is the desire to improve energy efficiency, and this is especially true in the renewable energy sector. We expect to see increased demand for coatings for solar panels and wind turbines as photovoltaics (PV) and wind energy become more prevalent and improved efficiency and low maintenance costs become increasingly important.
January 21, 2014 Category: Renewable Energy
The last couple of years have been quite interesting for third-generation photovoltaic PV technology. Significant advances have taken place not only with respect to lab-scale cell efficiencies, but also on the commercialization front. As a result, a number of commercial providers have the potential to supply DSC panels in the near future.
However, the financial difficulties faced by the PV industry in recent times have cast suspicion on the long-term viability of both large and small firms. Nevertheless, there is scope for further improvement in the efficiency of lab-scale DSCs that already are competitive with amorphous silicon (a-Si) cells (~15 percent).
The changing dynamics in the global PV industry have led DSC manufacturers to seek solace in more economically resilient off-grid applications. Building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) applications and low-light driven DSC solutions for consumer electronics are increasingly being seen as the largest potential markets for DSC. In fact, the first commercialized DSC products were flexible keyboards and portable battery chargers.
February 19, 2013 Category: Renewable Energy
Solar energy storage with lead-acid batteries is as old as the solar energy industry itself. Off-grid photovoltaics (PV) has invariably used such batteries – in some cases just car batteries – to store energy produced during sunny periods. Until recently the market for grid-connected PV storage has been negligible, but this is changing. As feed-in-tariffs (FiTs) are reduced – and NanoMarkets expects this trend to continue globally – incentives are emerging for both residential and commercial PV users to store the solar energy they generate when the sun shines.
The solar storage business is thus doubly blessed. Not only has its opportunity space increased because of the growing number of PV installations as a whole, but non-utility, grid-connected PV has become a target has become a target market for storage for the first time.
Although several firms tried to exploit similar opportunities without success in the not-so-distant past, NanoMarkets now believes that the time is right for PV encapsulation to lead to significant revenue generation for well-prepared companies. Today’s opportunities in PV encapsulation can be summarized as follows:
• Several novel encapsulation technologies, such as multilayer dyad films and high performance barrier films deposited using atomic layer deposition (ALD), are now emerging that can serve important sectors of the PV market.
These newer encapsulation technologies have implications for the rising-in-importance flexible PV (especially CIGS, OPV, and DSC) sector, especially for building-integrated PV (BIPV) and other applications. Encapsulation is a key enabling technology for BIPV, which is expected to be the fastest growing sector of the PV industry over the next decade and a diversification opportunity for encapsulation technology suppliers.
The PV market is undergoing dramatic change as the industry transitions from one of generous subsidies to one with dwindling subsidies, dramatically reduced prices, reduced margins, and anticipated massive consolidation. As the PV module market shifts towards a commodity business model with associated mergers, and many players are weeded out of the panel area, which dominates the overall solar industry, there are many in the industry looking for new business models with greater opportunities for high margin growth.
NanoMarkets believes that one of the areas of high growth for solar PV is in building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV).This new wave of BIPV products represents an attractive opportunity for new encapsulation materials. The current materials for flexible modules are relatively expensive to manufacture compared to the glass used in rigid modules. However, for BIPV applications, where product lifetimes are 20-30 years, they represent a good value proposition for high-end applications today, and will have much wider appeal as costs come down. The larger opportunities will be in the newest generation of materials, which promise to reduce costs without reducing product lifetimes.
April 13, 2012 Category: Renewable Energy
NanoMarkets believes that 2012 will be the year that dye sensitized cell (DSC) photovoltaics grows into itself and begins to capitalize on the available opportunities despite overall weakness in the PV market. In this article we examine a few of the factors that the industry and interested investors may be ignoring.
Over the past several years the photovoltaics (PV) market has been the single largest consumer of silver printing pastes, beating out even the big traditional markets like printed circuit boards and polymer thick-film membrane switches. But as the PV sector enters a period of flat or moderate growth in the next couple of years, the industry remains highly cost sensitive, and government subsidies are waning. Meanwhile, the ongoing shift in market share toward thin-film PV (TFPV) is changing the nature of the addressable market for silver materials in PV.
There is some good news, however as most of the opportunities center on providing new silver-based products that help the panel makers reduce manufacturing costs. Examples are: new silver printing pastes with reduced silver loadings that do not sacrifice performance; new printable silver materials that enable the fabrication of finer resolution silver traces; and new nanosilver-based options that enable low-cost, solution-processable and/or printable fabrication of transparent front electrodes.
NanoMarkets continues to believe that there are opportunities for commercialization of smart coatings in the photovoltaics (PV) sector, even though the PV market is quite different today than it was just a year ago, both from an economic and a political perspective.
NanoMarkets' eight-year forecasts suggest that the market for transparent conductors (TCs) in both inorganic and organic thin-film photovoltaics (TFPV) applications will be about $90 million in 2012 and grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 30 percent to a value of over $635 million by the end of the forecast period in 2019. NanoMarkets anticipates this growth despite the current difficult overall environment for PV, in which government subsidies are under threat and in which there are huge pressures to reduce TFPV costs to make TFPV competitive with c-Si PV and with other sources of energy in general.