AES Semigas


3 July 2020

Emerging photovoltaics market to grow to $38bn in 2040

The market for emerging photovoltaics will grow to $38bn in 2040 without colliding with the silicon-in-glass ‘power station’ business, according forecasts in IDTechEx’s report ‘Materials Opportunities in Emerging Photovoltaics 2020-2040’.

There will be many opportunities for premium pricing of new specialist materials, the report notes. For example, over $10,000/W is currently paid for a record 30%-efficient lll-V compound semiconductor (PV) in a designer watch, as an array on a satellite, or on the surface of a high-altitude drone.

Another emerging PV technology, copper indium gallium di-selenide (CIGS), has recently shot to over $2bn sales in only ten years.

Most of the emerging PV technology is thin film, flexible and some will be stretchable, making possible many new markets, such as tightly rollable PVs in your mobile phone, regular aircraft skin, billions of Internet of Things nodes etc.

Hundreds of millions more building facades need such lightweight PVs, says IDTechEx chairman Dr Peter Harrop. Also, triple-efficiency indoor III-V PV is newly on sale, to be followed by underwater applications. Researchers are even targeting three types of technology for PV paint. Vehicle retrofit from boats to buses... this list goes on and on, adds Harrop. (Those interested in radically new formats for electronics and electrics in general can refer to IDTechEx’s report ‘Electronics Reshaped 2020-2040’).

The PV research pipeline guarantees robust further improvements to the already dramatic leap in lifetime, efficiency, cost etc in recent years, says Harrop. CIGS will join organic photovoltaics (OPV) in being totally free of the heavy metals that could be emitted during either misuse or wrongful disposal of the materials. Also, rare materials subject to price hikes are being bypassed. Transparency, biodegradability, availability of wide-area film, layering different technologies on top of each other - all these factors open up more sales.

But with silicon near its theoretical limits and taking up massive areas of real estate - often prime agricultural land and lakes - that multi-junction, compound semiconductor PV being developed by Toyota for mounting on a car may even compete with ‘power station’ silicon one day by affordably providing the same power in half the area, and therefore being much more widely deployable and acceptable, concludes IDTechEx.

Tags: Thin-film PV



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