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The thin-film PV equipment market

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By John West, Managing Director, VLSI Research

As recently as a couple of years ago, solar panels based on thin-film manufacturing technology were being promoted as the low-cost alternative to crystalline silicon. Not only was it cheaper, but thin film also had a convincing roadmap which guaranteed this cost advantage for the foreseeable future. That was 2008, when persistently high polysilicon prices seemed inevitable as demand for solar electricity boomed. We now know that assumption to be false, and although we all knew polysilicon prices would fall eventually, no one predicted the speed and magnitude with which they crashed: in the space of several months, prices reached the point where any advantage associated with the lower materials costs of thin-film manufacturing were completely blown away.

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The eleventh edition of Photovoltaics International was published in February 2011 and features a special focus on PV modules from Fraunhofer CSP, SunPower and Heriot-Watt University. In addition, China Sunergy studies dark lines on mc-Si cells in Cell Processing and TU Freiburg looks at the challenges of the wire saw wafering process in Materials.

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