Table of ContentsIntroductionCopper Indium Gallium (di)SelenideOrganic PhotovoltaicsDifferences Between OPV and CIGSConclusionsAbout Nanomarkets
Certain segments in the PV industry are hit by lack of good encapsulation techniques which help optimise cost and performance. Research by NanoMarkets shows that CIGS PV and OPV are the sectors advanced encapsulation firms should focus on.
Copper Indium Gallium (di)Selenide
Copper indium gallium (di)selenide (CIGS) has the highest sensitivity to moisture compared to all other inorganic thin-films widely used in photovoltaics. This sensitivity is due to the inherent degradation mechanism present in CIGS in the presence of moist heat and also due to its aluminum-doped zinc oxide (AZO) front electrode.
CIGS needs to undergo advanced encapsulation for ensuring extended lifetimes, good reliability and flexible products, especially for flexible building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) products. These high-performance solar products are flexible compared to conventional solar panels and widely used in the building markets which widely use flexible building materials in areas such as roofing. However, these materials are not as long lasting as conventional solar panels, and advanced encapsulation for CIGS is aimed at solving this problem.
According to NanoMarkets, flexible applications will account for a larger proportion of the CIGS market than other inorganic PV technologies. Flexible CIGS developers and producers will make the most of cost reductions and pay a premium for encapsulation.
Organic photovoltaics (OPVs) are also highly sensitive to moisture and air, and even glass encapsulation does not give them a long life. Hence traditional OPV panels have shorter life times compare to other PVs, apart from giving lower power output and costing the same as other PVs. Advanced encapsulation is thus mandatory for OPV products even if they are glass-encapsulated. OPV is struggling because of low demand for products due to low conversion efficiency compared to other technologies.
Differences Between OPV and CIGS
The needs of OPV and CIGS differ as CIGS has the traditional PV market and the BIPV market even in the absence of advanced encapsulation while OPV cannot survive without encapsulation. OPV may find a market with short-lived embedded or portable products, but to achieve high volumes, OPV needs outdoor deployment which cannot happen in the form of traditional panels. Thus, advanced encapsulation is the solution for OPV-based BIPV products. OPV’s lifetime will play a key role in determining its market position. Suppliers and developers of advanced encapsulation will need to gauge the opportunities in supplying CIGS against that of OPV. Although CIGS offers larger volumes compared to OPV, the encapsulation requirements are not as high as OPV. However, advanced encapsulation is crucial for OPV to come out of the comparatively short-lived, indoor and low-volume markets. Hence OPV products should not be ignored due to the low volumes though CIGS PV will help advanced encapsulation suppliers generate more money.
According to NanoMarkets, suppliers and developers of advanced encapsulation will not win markets where polymers and glass encapsulation products are a success. Crystalline silicon has comparatively low requirements for encapsulation, as they are rigid and not very sensitive to water or air. Also, they usually come encapsulated in glass. Hence advanced encapsulation is not a matter of concern for c-Si PV. Similarly, CdTe, though relatively more sensitive than silicon, is normally glass encased ensuring barrier protection. First Solar dominates this category and sells only traditional solar panels. Similar to CIGS, thin-film silicon gives rise to the flexible encapsulation problem, but it is not as sensitive to air or water. Also, rigid products are mostly glass-encapsulated, providing more than the needed protection.
NanoMarkets is a leading provider of market research and industry analysis of opportunities within advanced materials and emerging energy and electronics markets. Since the firm’s founding, NanoMarkets has published over one hundred comprehensive research reports on emerging technology markets. Topics covered have included OLED displays, lighting and materials, thin-film electronics, conductive inks, transparent conductors, renewable energy, printed electronics and other promising technologies. Our client roster is a who’s who of companies in specialty chemicals, materials, electronics applications and manufacturing.
This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by NanoMarkets.
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