Renewables, Solar

Solar photovoltaic market a viable alternative

21 June 2006 – Solar photovoltaic industries are slowly overcoming inhibitions associated with them to become a viable alternative as distribution generation systems, according to a new study by Frost & Sullivan. Market penetration and acceptability is expected with new improved, modular, affordable, adaptive and aesthetically acceptable systems in place.

Frost & Sullivan finds that the Global Solar Photovoltaic Market earned revenues of $6.49bn in 2005 and estimates this to reach $16.43bn in 2012.

New Ribbon type technology that reduces process waste and consumes less of the wafer material has slowly but surely over the last two years effected the continuation of production to match demand. Further, new breakthroughs in conversion efficiency of thin film technologies of 13.5 per cent will in effect bring in a reduction of silicon consumed per square meter of installation for the same output power.

“Silicon feedstock supply constraints growth in the solar photovoltaic industry,” notes Frost & Sullivan Industry Analyst Pramodh Panchanadam. “Only by increasing production capacity and use of new technologies in both manufacturing and production processes will the effects of this constraint be mitigated.
However, the market is still largely dependent on government support and political will. With the political mood swinging towards lowering of imports in solar products to the market especially in Europe, a strong fear psychosis has griped the market that demand may not be met.

“The industry, to sustain growth, will need to look in to what it can do to pull away from a subsidy supported to market driven entity,” explains Panchanadam. ” For this, it will need to entrench on market fundamentals such as restructuring its supply chain, distribution network and marketing structure.”

Solar cell and module manufacturers in addressing feedstock supply issues go for extended supply contracts as a strategic step to secure their raw material requirements. However, beyond 2009, when most of the contracts expire, companies will have to rethink on being niche manufacturers or vertically integrated to better control their supply chain. In addition, innovative strategies such as having joint ventures with regional Asian players to reduce manufacturing costs will also play a major factor in deciding market share in the future.