Posts Tagged ‘photovoltaic’

A Good Visualization of the U.S. PV Markets

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has created an excellent historical visualization of solar installations in the U.S. from year 2001 to present. Clearly illustrates the impact of state subsidies and why California is the 4th largest PV market globally. This picture may change to more of a national market in the near future with less dependence on state subsidies as PV module, balance of systems and installations continue the steep cost decline. A U.S. market dependent on only federal solar subsidies may be just around the corner based on the manufactured cost forecasts contained in Photon Consulting latest report, “The True Cost of Solar, A Race to $1W”

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Price/Performance Improvement Enabling Thin-Film on Rooftops

Historically, the residential and commercial rooftop solar energy market sectors have been dominated by solar modules using crystalline silicon wafers. Recently, the utility Southern California Edison began implementing the first phase of a 500MW project plan which is mainly supplied via 1MW installations on large (larger than 100,000 ft2) roofs. The program, which demonstrates the unique distributed generation nature of PV, is using First Solar thin-film product for some of the installation sites along with crystalline vendors including efficiency leader Sunpower . Once the exclusive domain of crystalline wafer modules only, the cost and efficiency of high performance thin-film product like First Solar’s produces acceptable internal rate of return for system owners on rooftops where many variables line up for this technology type. An article today in USA today features a good overview of the program and a picture of installers placing First Solar modules into service.

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Both Sides Now: The Thin-Film/Crystalline Debate

A financial industry client recently asked whether “thin-film” PV product can ever compete with highly established crystalline PV technology based product which currently has 85% market share.  His question was prompted by a spate of recent press articles that talk about the 50% drop in module sale prices in the last year, with claims of margin pressure on the thin-film category.  A good summary of the situation, here.

Like all things related to solar energy generation, there are many factors to consider.  First, thin-film is a broad term; there are many technology types with different performance capabilities, cost points, and structures which factor heavily in a comparison to crystalline products.

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