By Mark Thirsk, Managing Partner, Linx Consulting LLC
Although simple in concept, a photovoltaic solar cell is a difficult feat of technology in execution. The challenge of balancing cell structure design, material optimization and module technology to achieve efficient, low-cost modules that perform in aggressive environments for up to a generation is huge. The modules’ structure has to support and protect a thin, fragile slice of semiconductor, while ensuring a stable environment free from contamination and moisture with little or no change in the incident light on the cell. Key to the modules’ performance are the first-level polymeric materials that contact the cell and conductor structures, hold the module together, and in many cases form the second-level protection of the cells from the environment. In this article we explore the industry dynamics in the supply of advanced materials for module assembly, the new technology directions, and how the market will develop over the next five years.