The Growing Development in the Thin Film PV Module Market

The Global Thin-Film PV Module Market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 3.81 % over the forecasted period to reach a market size of US $11.557 billion in 2027 from the US $8.896 billion in 2020. Thin-film solar modules are constructed from the thin-film solar cells. Thin-film solar cells are second-generation solar cells that are made from layering of multiple thin-film photovoltaic materials. These solar cells have been observed to have a fragile layer of thickness, which measured in nanometres, as compared to the conventional P-N junction solar cells. Thin-film PV modules are more flexible and lightweight and cater to the development integrated photovoltaics through their use. The thin-film technology is known to be relatively more economic despite having lesser efficiency when compared to the conventional crystalline silicon technology. However, this technology has shown significant improvement due to the constant research and development over the years. As a result of all the efforts made on R&D, the efficiency of CdTe and CIGS PV cells is now recorded to be over 21% which has successfully outperformed multi-crystalline silicon, which still has a dominant share in the solar PV module industry.

Increasing Focus Towards the Renewable Energy Sector to Drive Market Growth

The inclining focus towards the renewable energy sector, especially solar energy, is expected to drive the demand for thin-film modules, thereby augmenting the growth of the market. Countries across the world have set targets for themselves, aiming to increase the share of renewable energy sources in the total electricity generation mix because of the rising concerns regarding things like environmental sustainability, reduction of the emission of greenhouse gases and also, the constantly rising cost of electricity. For instance, Australia’s renewable energy target is a federal government policy that aimed at generating an upwards of 33,000 GW of the total electricity from renewable sources by the year 2020. Spain is aiming at an installed capacity of 120 GW of renewable energy, primarily wind and solar, by the year 2030 under the country’s NECP 2021-30 (national integrated energy and climate plan). Canada, which boasts one of the cleanest electricity systems across the globe, also has set the target of increasing the share of zero-emitting renewable sources to 90% by the year 2030 from around an 80% figure back in 2016. In India, the government has aimed to install a capacity of 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022, out of which solar would constitute about 100 GW. All these targets and goals aimed at increasing the overall share of renewable energy sources in the total electricity generation mix are thus predicted to significantly drive the demand for thin-film modules globally and propel market growth.


Increase in R&D Investments to Increase Adoption of Thin Film PV Module and Augment Market Growth


The growth of investments in the research and development in order to make the thin-film solar modules more efficient is predicted to show an increase in their adoption and thus, raise their share in the global solar PV market. For instance, in December 2019, NICE Solar Energy GmbH, a German-Chinese joint venture was reported to have achieved a new world-record efficiency rate of 17.6% for the CIGS (copper, indium, gallium, and selenium) thin film solar modules. Further, in September 2019, NICE Solar Energy, a Schwäbisch Hall-based enterprise, along with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg joined their forces together in order to work on the Capitano project. This project aimed at combining perovskite semiconductor-based thin-film solar modules with semiconductors made up of CIGS. This combination can potentially result in efficient tandem solar cells, while having all the advantages of thin-film technology and an efficiency of around 30%.


North America to Hold Substantial Share in the Thin Film Market


By geography, the North American region is projected to account for a significant share in the global thin-film module market in the analysed period and was also recorded to hold substantial shares back in 2019. With the imposition of tariff by the US, on silicon-based PV modules in 2018, the manufacturing of thin-film solar module has increased, with US manufacturer First Solar being one of the key players in the global thin-film module market. According to the EIA in 2019, the country was reported to have manufactured over 600 MW of thin-film modules. But after the tariff imposition, 8 GW of PV modules that were imported, did not tariff in 2019, while about 4.3 GW of these modules were thin-film modules. In October 2019, First Solar made an announcement stating that the production at its new PV module manufacturing facility in Ohio had commenced. With this new production facility, the company’s total annualized production capacity stood at 1.9 GW in the US. Both the production facilities at Ohio manufacture Series 6 module, a larger CdTe thin film solar module and similar in size to a conventional 72-cell crystalline silicon module.


Europe to Hold Decent Market Share in the Forecast Period


Europe is another region which is expected to hold a decent share in the thin-film module market globally over the analysed period owing to the growing R&D activities and focus directed on the reduction of carbon footprints across the entire region. For example, the European Sharc25 research project has been working on the optimization of the conversion efficiency of CIGSe thin-film technology from various aspects, with a combination of methodology like experimental characterization, theoretical modelling and sharing of the technical know-how among multiple leading research groups throughout Europe. European countries have been constantly increasing their speed to meet their targets of carbon-dioxide reduction while also addressing their energy needs. The demand for thin-film solar modules has been growing considerably in Europe, which is positively impacting the growth of thin-film module market in this region. The very first solar thin-film modules were selected back in 2017 by Photosol to power 14 solar power plants, with a capacity of 106.5 MW, and are located in Central and Southwest France. Hanergy Thin Film Power Group announced in 2018, the culmination of Europe’s biggest flexible solar module project, by its US based subsidiary, MiaSolé in Den Bosch, Netherlands. As a part of this project, the company successfully installed 418 flexible, lightweight modules on the roof of the Maaaspoort Sports Centre.

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