The Future For Thinfilm

Although there has been a rapid ramp up in the number of companies within the thin-film sector, it's noteworthy that all three of these projects use modules manufactured by First Solar; speaking at the EPIA thin-film event, that company's Benny Buller argued that their cadmium telluride (CdTe) modules have the lowest module production cost in the sector, allowing for the lowest module price in the current market. This echoes comments from Mike Ahearn, chairman and CEO of First Solar, who in December said: 'Looking ahead to the next 2-4 years, First Solar will be in a position to produce power from the sun at costs competitive with conventional electricity generated from fossil fuels.'

With a strong policy for cost reduction (glass loss reduction, tellurium cadmium oxide (TCO) loss reduction, low cost encapsulants, faster TCO deposition rates and such like), efficiency increases and economies of scale, in its latest earnings announcement, released in late October, First Solar announced a manufacturing cost of $1.08/W, a figure which includes a $0.04/W ramping up cost associated with factories under construction in Malaysia.

It is clear that with a range of large-scale projects already in operation (where the appropriate support mechanisms are in place), thin-film is rapidly establishing itself as a market force to be reckoned with, both in Germany and around the world. Conference chairman Bernhard Dimmler of Wurth Solar GmbH & Co KG summed up the prospects for the technology by asking not if thin-film was competitive with crystalline technologies but rather: 'Will c-Si be able to compete with thin-film PV in 10 years time?' He argues that if thin-film PV producers are able to reach their targets, the answer is 'no'.

David Appleyard is associate editor of Renewable Energy

World magazine.

e-mail: [email protected]

With thanks to Iris Krampitz for original research on the Riedel Recycling case study.

This article is available on line. To comment on it or forward it to a colleague, visit RenewableEnergyWorld.com inter

SOIĆ¢l 2009

Getting Started With Solar

Getting Started With Solar

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