Speakers at Thin Film Europe 2012 answer your crucial questions about the industry

During our recent webinar on the future of thin film, your peers sent in countless questions about how this burgeoning technology will fare in 2012. So, we went away and asked our industry contacts and upcoming conference speakers – read on to see iSuppli & Solar Buzz respond to your questions.

When should we expect the next round of growth and demand to pick up again for thin film?

Stefan De Haan – IHS iSuppli

2012 will be difficult. The overall outlook is cloudy, but there are indications that the German market will see a strong Q2 (similar to 2010, unlike last year). This will translate into some unexpected demand for thin film. And the Indian market will at least double in size this year, which represents a particular opportunity for thin film. Substantial growth on a global scale will return in 2013.

Finlay Colville – Solar Buzz

There is considerable misunderstanding right now on the demand levels within the industry. While the declining margins and losses reported across the board towards the end of 2011 may suggest a dip in PV demand, it is worth noting that 2011 demand is likely to exceed 25 GW when the final numbers are counted and checked. Thin-film basically still falls into the overall PV demand, and as such the total market for market-competitive product has been stronger than ever during 2011. The basic question really comes down to market-share and market-competitiveness of thin-film, whatever the demand level is. And during 2011, the share of c-Si modules (driven by low-cost poly and value-chain manufacturing in China and Taiwan) has increased. With significant thin-film capacity coming online during 2011, this has then given the appearance that growth and demand for thin film has declined. But the real decline is market-share, with the exception of First Solar that remains in a different league to all other thin-film companies in the industry today. It will only be significant cost reduction of thin-film manufacturing that will provide any next round' of growth, at a level not seen before by the chasing thin-film players.

C-Si modules have demonstrated 25 years lifetime expectancy. What is the life expectancy for thin film?

Stefan De Haan – IHS iSuppli

20-25 years are expected as well, of course. Otherwise the technology would not sell. Unlike for c-Si, there is not yet enough empirical data for thin film to verify and ultimately confirm these lifetime expectations. However, the available data clearly indicates that they will be met. Whether 30+ years can be expected without too much degradation as it seems to be the case for some c-Si products remains to be seen. There's little experience, since the technology is still young.

Finlay Colville – Solar Buzz

There is currently no strong reason to suggest any significant difference in lifetimes. Thin-film cells were employed in mass production for consumer electronics (e.g. calculators) many years ago also.

If US probe the solar dispute with China, will manufacturers shift to other low priced countries, such as Taiwan, for OEM of solar cell?

Finlay Colville – Solar Buzz

There are many scenarios that may be played out that will impact different stages of the value and supply-chains, and it is premature to try and forecast each and every one of these permutations until the full facts of any dispute are played out. The shift to use Taiwan cells has been ongoing for several years anyhow, with many of the c-Si modules produced during 2010 and 2011 using cells from the likes of Gintech, Motech, NSP, Solartech and DelSolar, while the c-Si modules have been branded by leading c-Si players in Japan, China, Europe and North America. Taiwan cell producers command a unique place today within the c-Si value-chain, and while there may well be an upside that emerges (post the trade disputes ongoing) that will favour these Taiwan producers, there are still many reasons why cell supply from Taiwan may see strong midstream growth during 2012.

According to your predictions, which technology will be majorly/highly/most likely installed in Europe in mid to long term.

Stefan De Haan – IHS iSuppli

In general, crystalline will remain the dominating technology in the foreseeable future. Thin film market share will be around 20% - which translates into a significant market volume considering the strong overall growth rates. In the established European markets thin film will play a smaller role than in some emerging Asian markets, above all India.

Stefan and Finlay will be talking extensively on these topics at the 4th Thin Film Solar Summit Europe (March 5-6, Berlin). The event will address the issues at the heart of the industry, including how to increase competitiveness and achieve real bankability in 2012. Speaking in a comprehensive programme include experts from First Solar, Solar Frontier, Fraunhofer, Inventux, Global Solar, Deutschebank, GDF Suez and many more.

If you would like more information on the event, and the opportunity to hear from and talk to these experts, please visit:


or contact:

Max Crompton
Global Events Director
PV Insider
+44 (0) 207 375 7156

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