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The photovoltaics industry: against all odds, strong growth continues

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By Paula Mints, Principal Analyst & Associate Director, Navigant Consulting, Inc.

The photovoltaic industry was once, and for quite some time, the unappreciated renewable technology. Perceived as too expensive without subsidies to reduce the price of ownership, and sometimes as an energy choice primarily for environmental zealots, the industry has continued, nonetheless, to grow at a compound annual rate of 34% over the past 30 years. Growth at this rate would be envied by any industry, and certainly deserves recognition, particularly as it has come with significant problems and has been extremely difficult to achieve. Now, with worldwide consensus on global warming along with sufficient evidence that fossil fuels are rapidly depleting, solar electricity is finally earning some respect - but the industry still has perception problems to solve.

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The first edition of the Photovoltaics International journal, published in August 2008, was created in response to what was deemed to be a growing need for an unbiased technical publication for the solar cell and module manufacturing industry. With this in mind, the first edition of Photovoltaics International saw the commissioning of papers from a wide range of sectors, such as NREL’s overview of the CPV sector, IMEC’s thin-film efficiency gains via plasma texturing, site selection with IBM PLI, Q-Cells on silicon nitride thin films and Navigant Consulting’s market overview.

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