Challenges and Next Steps for the Thin Film Marketplace

Chris O'Brien, Head of Market Development, OERLIKON SOLAR, will part of our morning session on PV Modules: Manufacturing, Market Developments & Emerging Technologies on Tuesday, April 17 at Photovoltaics Summit 2012. Chris has shared some of his thoughts on what's next for thin film technologies as a lead-up to his presentation.

Q: In your opinion, what are the latest developments, opportunities and challenges for thin film modules?

Current market conditions are challenging profit margins for all PV technologies. Nevertheless, thin film silicon manufacturing technology has improved rapidly to keep pace with fast-changing market conditions. The latest generation manufacturing lines for thin film silicon have an estimated manufacturing cost of just $0.50/W, highly competitive even in turbulent market conditions.

Q: What would be the next step in applications for these materials?
In emerging sunbelt markets, where there is no significant subsidy funding available, the competitiveness of PV energy with other conventional electricity generation alternatives will likely favor low-cost, large-scale systems that can supply PV electricity at the lowest cost. The climate conditions in these emerging markets and the likely trend of large-scale projects play to the strengths of thin film technology.

Q: Can you give us a preview of the topics you will present at the 2012 edition of the Photovoltaics Summit during your presentation, "Thin Film Competiveness in a Shifting PV Landscape."
My talk will focus on providing an updated analysis of market conditions, including global supply/demand and potential consequences of regional trade disputes. I will also recap recent milestones in the development of thin film silicon module technology and manufacturing equipment technologies, and provide an analysis of the competitiveness of thin film silicon in the current turbulent market conditions.

Q: What are you looking forward to hearing at the Summit?
I'm looking forward to hearing more about how businesses are coping with the near-term margin challenges while positioning themselves to capture the long-term market opportunity.

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