The market for PV materials will grow at 9.2% annually till 2018, according to new a new report by Lux Research.
Despite oversupply issues pushing down prices of polysilicon, other materials that present an opportunity to drastically increase module efficiency can be sold at a premium.
“While certain solar materials are commodities, many others still offer opportunity for differentiation and high margins through added performance,” said Fatima Toor, Lux Research analyst and the lead author of the report. “Innovations in high-performance encapsulants, backsheets and metallisation pastes enable higher profitability by allowing module makers to improve efficiency and command higher prices,” she added.
Lux claims that materials for solar modules have enjoyed rising profit margins since 2009, with the exception of glass and polysilicon. Some gases, metals, polymers and process chemicals and solvents are achieving double digit profits.
The study found that encapsulants, backsheets and metallisation pastes were delivering high profits and making a big impact on module efficiency.
Dow Corning, Du Pont, LG Chem, BASF and Dai Nippon Printing lead the way in patent ownership for solar encapsulants.
DuPont recently announced a 42% increase in sales of its solar metal pastes.