Is an amorphous thin film shakeout occurring?



News that amorphous thin-film competitors Sunfilm and Sontor are to merge due to the competitive landscape, overcrowded market, and the dominance of First Solar–both from a capacity and conversion efficiency standpoint-could be the first of many such consolidations, as the solar market stalls due to the global current economic climate.

With CdTe and CIGS thin-film start-ups entering volume production in 2009, lower efficiency a-Si producers could be squeezed hard, forcing them to reduce costs and therefore prices just to survive.

However, that wouldn’t be so difficult if capital was easy to obtain and at competitive rates since this would allow capacity expansions to gain the economies of scale required to remain competitive. That isn’t the situation currently and it’s doubtful that this will change any time soon.

One way that those economies of scale can be reached is through merger with other competitors. Though not as cost efficient as expanding internally, it remains one of the best available options.

The merger of Sunfilm and Sontor also raises issues over the viability of Applied Materials’ ‘SunFab’ technology. Sunfilm has been the first to qualify Applied’s second-generation cell technology, which produces 8% module efficiencies, and can be expected to compete strongly with any other a-Si technology user. However, doubts remain over whether a-Si thin film can compete with the benchmark figures set by First Solar.

In a rapidly expanding market, even First Solar could not expect to meet all the demand for its modules, opening the way for a-Si competitors. However, the market has stalled, and with new entrants such as Solyndra and others adopting higher efficiency technologies, they also become major competitors to a-Si.

A year from now things could look radically different as the U.S. market really takes hold and growth across multiple regions returns to new record levels, providing a-Si a market to fill. Right now that isn’t the case and could prompt others to follow Sunfilm and Sontor.

7 December 2022
Intersolar is the world’s leading exhibition & conference series for the solar industry. As part of this event series, Intersolar India in Gujarat is India’s most pioneering exhibition and conference for India’s solar industry. It takes place annually and has a focus on the areas of photovoltaics, PV production and solar thermal technologies. Since 2019, Intersolar India is held under the umbrella of The smarter E India – India’s innovation hub for the new energy world.
24 January 2023
Solar Quality Summit Europe January 24–25, 2023 The Solar Quality Summit Europe in Barcelona will bring together the PV industry to give an overview of market developments and recent technologies, sharing best practices in EPC, O&M, and Asset Management.
1 February 2023
Returning For Its 10th Year | Connecting Project Developers & Capital
Now in it’s 10th year, Solar Finance & Investment Europe is the meeting place for solar developers, asset managers, investors & financiers to learn the latest business models for project finance, re-financing, power purchase agreements as well secondary markets for PV assets. The conference also looks at latest technologies and systems for maximising power output and efficiency, reducing losses and predictive maintenance. The 2023 edition will bring together the largest pool of capital and projects together. Reserve your space now to avoid disappointment.
14 February 2023
Intersolar North America (ISNA) and Energy Storage North America (ESNA) is the premier US-based conference and trade show focused on solar, energy storage, and EV charging infrastructure. Dedicated to accelerating the energy transition, the combined event delivers actionable education, invaluable networking, and an immersive expo hall experience.
22 February 2023
After a record breaking year at the Energy Storage Summit, join us next year at the 8th edition in 2023 where we are expanding in line with the increased opportunity across the renewable sector. As we see this continued growth of the industry through change in government policy, increased capital and a need for grid resilience in geographies with high renewable penetration, can the necessary scale be met across the value chain in order to meet net-zero goals in Europe? We will gather industry leaders across the sector to discuss a range of vital topics including the most lucrative markets for storage and what the best route to market strategy is for your storage asset, changes needed in policy and infrastructure, as well as the effects of the supply crisis, disruptive technologies and much more.
14 March 2023
PV CellTech will be return to Berlin on 14-15 March 2023 and looking at the competing technologies and roadmaps for PV cell mass production during 2024-2026.

Read Next

Subscribe to Newsletter

Most Read

Upcoming Events