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3 April 2007


Thin-film solar cell equipment market to grow by almost 300%

As the solar cell industry moves toward thin-film technology amid severe polysilicon shortage, the corresponding market for commercial solar cell production equipment (which covers coating, etching, diffusion and cleaning processes) will grow 275% from $1.2bn in 2006 to US$4.5bn in 2010, forecasts The Information Network.

The crystalline silicon (c-Si) sector includes equipment for SiN anti-reflection coating, back reflectors, and contacts. The thin-film sector includes equipment for transparent conductive oxide (TCO), deposition, contacts, and automation tools. “Unfortunately, the market for these types of equipment is for the sectors of the industry that are projected to grow the slowest, namely c-Si and amorphous silicon (a-Si),” says Robert N Castellano, president of The Information Network.

However, the real growth will be in equipment for newer thin-film technologies, such as cadmium telluride (CdTe) and copper indium (gallium) diselenide (CIGS). Key innovations are roll-to-roll equipment and printable CIGS inks instead of sputtering and chemical vapor deposition, Castellano adds.

Between 2006 and 2010 the compound annual growth rates (CAGR) will be about 40% for c-Si and a-SI, but nearly 75% for CdTe and 200% for CIGS. Other technologies, such as GaAs films, will also grow at triple the rate of silicon-based cells, the firm adds.