A recent report by market analysts Yole Développement has predicted that the PV equipment and materials markets will drive manufacturing cost reduction, leading to the purchase of in the region of 35GWp of new equipment by 2017. The report, “Crystalline Silicon PV: Technology, Equipment & Materials”, singles out the c-Si sector as facing a period of change whereby the low-efficiency portion of manufacturing capacity will be shut down in order to concentrate on the higher-yielding technologies.
Yole Développement has, in this report, confirmed what most savvy analysts have suggested as the industry finds itself mired in a situation of consolidation. Higher cell efficiency will be the main driver for cost reduction, thus providing a chance for PV equipment manufacturers to secure new customers despite existing production overcapacities.
Opportunities for both c-Si and thin-film PV manufacturers are presented as both sectors strive to increase cell and module efficiency norms past 19% and 16%, respectively. New technologies, materials (like quasi-mono silicon wafers) and processes will be required, leading to a need for higher-tech equipment such as ion implant tools and amorphous silicon deposition tools.
Milan Rosina, technology and market analyst for photovoltaics at Yole Développement and author of the report, provides an in-depth analysis of the various technologies and equipment types in use in c-Si (and thin-film, to a lesser degree) solar cell and module manufacturing. Figures, trends and details of the likely major players are predicted for the period from 2011–2017, as are the likely pitfalls, obstacles and opportunities that will emerge for PV equipment manufacturers.
“Today, the key objective of PV manufacturers is no longer to increase their production capacities, but to differentiate themselves from their competitors in an overcrowded market thanks to added value products (with lower price, higher efficiency…),” explains Milan Rosina.