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Photovoltaics (PV) - Materials, Applications and Development of Building-Integrated Photovoltaics by NanoMarkets

Post Time:Dec 22,2008Classify:Industry NewsView:412

NanoMarkets is a leading provider of market and technology research and industry analysis services for the thin film, organic and printable electronics businesses (which we refer to as TOP Electronics.) Since the firm’s founding, NanoMarkets has published over two dozen comprehensive research reports on emerging technology markets. Topics covered have included sensors, displays, OLEDs, HB-LEDs, e-paper, RFID, photovoltaics, smart packaging, novel battery technologies, printed electronics, organic electronics, emerging memory and storage technologies and other promising technologies. Our client roster is a who’s who of companies in specialty chemicals, materials, electronics applications and manufacturing. NanoMarkets also hosts a blog at

Photovoltaics Building Materials
Advances in technology, a greater awareness of "green" issues, and increasing government support are helping to drive growth for photovoltaics (PV) built directly into building materials of commercial and residential buildings.

Market Forecast on Photovoltaics Building Materials
NanoMarkets expects this type of integration, called building integrated PV (BIPV), to grow substantially, from $528.5 million in 2008 to about $8.2 billion by 2015. The BIPV market is already well established, but it is overwhelmingly dominated by "second generation" rooftop systems, which are essentially architecturally integrated rooftop systems. All other segments of the BIPV market are fairly small and are dependent on innovations at the technology, rather than architectural/construction, level.

NanoMarkets predicts that the necessary technology work will be done by about 2015, at which point innovative materials, such as solar encapsulated roofing materials, will surpass conventional rooftop PV panels in the market. Wide-scale adoption of BIPV is still hampered by high costs compared to conventional building materials, and most opportunities now are in countries and regions where governments are providing incentives to both BIPV makers and home and building owners. BIPV technologies are evolving quickly, however, and many suppliers are promising to have commercial-scale capacity of next-generation materials, which could be lower cost and higher efficiency, onstream in the next two years.

Current Building Integrated Photovoltaics Technologies
At present, about 80 percent of all BIPV is based on crystalline silicon (c-Si) technology, which has been around the longest and boasts a 24 percent efficiency, although they are the most costly to manufacture and vulnerable to silicon supply shortages. Inorganic thin-film (TF) technologies, which currently account for 20 percent of the total BIPV market, are forecast to move into first place by 2015, with an estimated 57 percent of the market.

Thin-Film Technologies
Many technologies fall under TF, including amorphous silicon (a-SI), cadmium telluride (CdTe), and copper-indium-gallium-diselenide (CIGS). CdTe and CIGS promise higher efficiencies than a-Si. Another category, considered the third-generation of BIPV materials, includes dye-sensitized cells (DSC) and organic PV (OPV).

Organic Solar Materials
These organic, third-generation materials will begin to penetrate the market over the next few years and are forecast to account for 8.7 percent of the total BIPV market by 2015. However, OPV/DSC will not be able to easily compete with traditional solar panels based on c-Si or TF due to its low efficiency and relatively short lifetimes. Despite current deficiencies, DSC does promise to be a more viable material for residential BIPV in particular, due to its compatibility with both rigid and flexible substrates.

Photovoltaics for the Roofing Industry
Most PV developers have products, or soon will, for the BIPV market. The main products are likely to be oriented toward roofing, which is a more cost-sensitive market than facades. BIPV products may be very attractive in the roofing market, since by creating roofing materials with embedded solar cells, it may be possible to provide PV functionality at a very low premium over conventional roofing materials.

Current Research Development in Photovoltaics Building Materials
There is also considerable interest in designing transparent solar cells that could be embedded in windows, curtains, and walls that could serve as both energy generators and sensors that lighten or darken at the appropriate times of day. Although the use of c-Si for BIPV is expected to slow, some c-Si producers, including SunPower and BP Solar, are investing in improvements to their technology so that it can compete with newer materials. SunPower, the biggest player in the BIPV market, plans to have its third-generation c-Si technology, with 23.4 percent efficiency, commercially available in about two years.

The new technology could reduce the installed cost of solar electricity by 50 percent, to 12 cts-18 cts/kWh, by 2012. BP Solar is working to reduce the thickness of its c-Si solar cells by 50 percent, while increasing efficiency by 25 percent, as part of a three-year research project launched last year and funded by the Solar America Initiative (SAI). SAI, an arm of the U.S. Department of Energy, aims to achieve cost-competitive solar technologies by 2015. Most R&D is focused on newer TF technologies, however, which will enable solar cells to be directly integrated into construction materials. Here, TF-based cells can replace conventional building materials with functional materials that can provide power.

Ascent Solar Technologies plans to position its CIGS TF PV technology as a BIPV system for industries such as commercial and residential building markets, as well as space and near-space applications. Through a partnership with Hydro Building Systems announced late last year, Ascent plans to incorporate its TFPV materials into Hydro's Brise Soleil product line, which includes windows, doors, curtain walls and roof lights. Ascent is currently testing products from its pilot production line and building a 30-MW factory scheduled to start up in 2009. Ascent also has a partnership with Spanish firm Giscosa Sociedad to integrate its PV technology into Giscosa's "RubberSun" rubber membrane roofing products. Prototypes are expected in late 2008 or early 2009.

Another key player in the TF BIPV market is PowerFilm—an Iowa-based firm that makes thin, flexible solar panels using a meter-wide silicon deposition chamber to put TF laminates of a-Si on plastic substrates. PowerFilm is giving top priority to development of BIPV panels for applications including metal and membrane roofing, and architectural fabric. It has completed a 10 KW demonstration project on metal roofing in collaboration with the Corus Group, and plans to launch initial BIPV products this year. BIPV in the form of solar windows and skylights is one of the most publicized versions of BIPV, but this market is limited in part because it is impossible to curtain a window while the solar window is collecting energy. Still, some PV producers are developing products for this market.

Dyesol is currently working to refine and incorporate its 12 percent efficiency DSCs with a bluish hue into windows for power generation in both residential and commercial buildings. Konarka and Air Products are working on transparent, flexible OPV modules for windows and other BIPV applications, and Sun Phocus Technologies has developed a unique "HoloSun" glass-coating film that can be applied on glass surfaces and incorporated into PV cells, increasing their performance by 25 percent-40 percent.This novel technology will play a part in the ongoing development of the commercial glass market, whose value is estimated at $2.7 billion for solar windows.

Ines, a research institute within the French Centre of Atomic Energy, is developing OPV cells for use in printed batteries to generate solar energy for large buildings and homes. The development of the cells is still in the early stages, but Ines expects to provide a very thin, printed battery that can absorb light energy when embedded in a window or on a rooftop within the next 15 years. Solar walls in the guise of building cladding, curtain walls, and atria are an obvious candidate for BIPV since they provide a large surface area and relatively quick payback once installed.

Dyesol and Corus are developing DSC on steel cladding for BIPV applications, and have recently confirmed the feasibility of this technology for large-scale manufacture on steel. Once this technology is developed and commercialized it could become much more cost-effective than other competing PV technologies and is likely to capture a larger share of the market. Extended product lives, lower material costs, and steadily increasing efficiency gains make this technology suitable for large surface area applications on a range of building types.

Heliovolt and Architectural Glass Aluminum Co. are working together to incorporate high-quality CIGS-based PV systems directly into standardized curtain wall products and atrium glass. The company has not released the timing for commercialization of this product. ColorSol, a consortium funded by the German government, is developing semi-transparent DSX modules for use in complex glass facades in commercial buildings. It plans to have a prototype ready by the end of 2008, and pilot scale production in 2009.

Government Backing for the Photovoltaics Industry
Government initiatives are spurring a lot of the development of new BIPV products. As part of the SAI project, Global Solar Energy, the only company in full-scale production of CIGS cells on flexible substrates, is collaborating with Dow Chemical to develop flexible PV shingles and other products for commercial and residential BIPV applications. Dow says it expects to have products commercially available by 2010. Konarka was awarded $3.6 million by SAI to fund a project focused on building integrated OPV modules for rooftop applications. The modules are expected to be available by 2014-2015 at a cost of less than 10 cts/watt.

Much government policy that is important to the future of the BIPV market takes place at the state level. California, the leader in offering incentives for solar energy, is home to the "One Million Solar Roofs" initiative, under which the state plans to pay $3.35 billion in rebates over ten years to households and businesses that install solar panels on new and existing buildings.

Globally, Germany and Japan lead the way in solar energy incentives, and are the largest markets for BIPV growth due to significant government support. Japan, with its large number of solar cell producers, has been a leader in the BIPV market. One Japanese PV maker, Sanyo, acquired the home building company Kubota in 2001 to market houses with roof integrated PV Sanyo is currently developing new TF silicon PV cells based on its microcrystalline and a-Si tandem structure. Such cells will have 12 percent efficiency, 150 watts of power, and have an estimated cost of $1.44 when production gets into full swing in 2012.

Source: NanoMarketsAuthor: shangyi

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