A new report from industry analyst firm NanoMarkets says that, while glass will continue to dominate substrate and encapsulation materials used for thin-film photovoltaics (TFPV), new materials including metal foils, plastics, ceramics and composites will grow rapidly in importance.
The main driver for using these new materials will be the need to support flexible PV in order to reduce PV panel costs using R2R processes and the rise of "intrinsically flexible products; notably those used for building-integrated PV (BIPV)."
In total, the TFPV substrate/encapsulation market is expected to reach $1.3 billion by 2015, going on to reach $1.8 billion by 2017. And while some of the most advanced encapsulation systems have proved difficult to develop and come with a high cost, NanoMarkets has identified several areas where these systems are beginning to make economic sense, most notably in the CIGS sector.
Additional details about the report, "Encapsulation and Flexible Substrates for Thin-Film Photovoltaics" are available at www.nanomarkets.net.
Findings from the Report
The NanoMarkets report notes that, despite their decline in overall market share, glass makers can still expect opportunities to emerge for them. Thus new flexible glasses will be able to participate in the growing sector of the TFPV market that uses R2R processes. In addition, the report suggests that glass will continue to own the highest-performing, "utility-grade" TFPV panels for both encapsulation and substrate purposes.
That said, NanoMarkets believes that the TFPV market is seeking new materials, such as low-cost thermally resistant plastics and lower cost dyadic encapsulation systems that will serve as key enabling technologies for BIPV and mobile PV products. It claims that these new materials ultimately have opportunities that go well beyond the PV space, in flexible displays and flexible lighting, for example.
About the Report
"Encapsulation and Flexible Substrates for Thin-Film Photovoltaics" identifies the considerable opportunities that are available for glassmakers, the plastics and metals industry and specialist encapsulation companies in the TFPV industry over the next eight years. Covered in the report are all the major inorganic TFPV markets, thin-film silicon, CdTe and CIGS. Revenue opportunities for a variety of materials as both substrates and encapsulants are discussed in detail and the report also examines what the latest economic and renewable energy policy trends will mean for firms supplying substrates and encapsulation materials to the TFPV sector. The report also contains detailed eight-year forecasts of TFPV substrate and encapsulant materials broken out by TFPV technology and materials type.