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Alternative Photovoltaic Solar Cell Technologies: Global Markets

  • February 2014
  • 100 pages
  • BCC Research
Report ID: 2042679


Table of Contents


The global market for alternative solar technologies was valued at $12.6 billion in 2012. This market is estimated to grow to more than $22.8 billion by the end of 2018 from a value of about $13.9 billion in 2013, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.5% for the five-year period, 2013 to 2018.

This report provides:
Quantification and explanation of market trends in the various non-crystalline silicon solar cell technologies and their relation and importance to global markets.
Discussion of factors affecting production, acceptance and adoption, and sales and distribution of non-crystalline silicon solar cell technology.
A presentation of factors such as governmental or environmental factors spurring or inhibiting the market.
Identification of major players in the market such as research organizations and end-users.


Worldwide interest in renewable energy technologies continues to see strong growth each year, with great amounts of effort and financial resources dedicated to research and development (R&D) of many different technologies. While the renewable energies industry has seen turbulence and consolidation globally over recent years due to myriad external and internal factors, the outlook remains positive – especially so for alternative solar energy technology applications.Solar energy technologies continue to see strong investment due to the promise of a continually renewable source of energy from our own sun. Predictability of annual and seasonal cloud cover in most parts of the world, strong solar irradiance in many regions of the world, and the associated regular cash flows that solar projects can thus produce in these areas are some of the attractive features of market-competitive solar technology.Much of the general public is familiar at a basic level with the most well-known solar energy application: photovoltaic (PV) modules. A solar PV module is a collection of solar PV cells, and is typically constructed of a hard substrate with solar cells on top and a layer of glass capping the solar cells.The bulk of solar PV cells and modules that are currently produced on a global scale are of the crystalline silicon (abbreviated as c-Si; may be either monocrystalline or polycrystalline) cell type technology. The great majority – approximately 85% – of the nearly 30 gigawatts-peak (GWp) of annual (2012) solar PV production represents c-Si technologies, and more than 100 GW of solar PV generative capacity installed worldwide.There is, however, a small but significant subset of alternative technologies within the broader solar PV segment whose use increases each year, and which many see as the future of the solar PV industries and markets. These are a set of diverse technologies whose market-specific landscapes are analyzed in this report and which meet both of the following criteria:
Use as their primary material something other than crystalline silicon.
Produce electric energy by harnessing the photovoltaic effect.

Such technologies are often referred to as second- and third-generation photovoltaics. This terminology is used to distinguish them from so-called first-generation photovoltaics, which utilize pn junctions and a semiconductor (typically crystalline silicon); this same terminology will be used in this report.Alternative solar technologies offer the prospect of higher conversion efficiencies, lighter weight, new applications, greater mechanical flexibility and less fragility. They also offer the potential for significantly lower production costs that may be highly competitive with grid electricity produced through traditional generative sources such as carbon-based fuels, as well as with other types of more traditional solar PV technologies such as mono- and polycrystalline silicon modules.A broad cross-section of researchers and field experts around the world expect that many alternative solar technologies will surpass traditional c-Si PV technologies in their pricing competitiveness and physical as well as market flexibility and adaptability. This is especially true for those technologies considered “third-generation photovoltaics” (organic/plastic photovoltaics, multi-junction photo-voltaics, and concentrating photovoltaics).


This report provides quantitative global industry data, paired with qualitative analysis of their significance, for the various interconnected players within the different market channels and loose collection of subsegments that form the larger industry grouping analyzed in this report. Closing the critical information gap for top decision-makers in diverse fields and roles is a key goal of this report, helping to provide a clearer picture of the global market, its interrelations, and its expected trends.


The subject matter of this study is critical in providing additional intelligence for decision-makers all along the value chain within the alternative solar technologies industries, helping to guide investment and business decisions by providing a frame of reference and forward-looking estimates. At its core, the overarching goal of this study is to strengthen the alternative solar technologies industry by helping to improve its commercial efficiency through provision of a macro-level view of trends and major influencing factors.


While this report contains a significant amount of technical information due to the inherent nature of the subject and thus provides information valuable to engineers and scientists, it is primarily aimed at business professionals in fields related to alternative solar technologies. These may include manufacturers and their suppliers, financiers and investors, researchers with backgrounds in engineering and sciences, marketing and sales professionals, renewable energy advocates, and others.This report may also prove valuable to professional analysts, investors, public policy advisors, and others who are seeking a better understanding and definition of how alternative solar technologies fit into the broader global solar PV market, the global renewable energies market, the global electric energy market, and the global energy market.


Topics analyzed within the report include a detailed breakdown and analysis of the global markets for alternative solar technologies by geography, technology and application. Additionally, a review of the different technologies currently in commercial use is included; a review of early-stage technologies that are beginning to see transfer from research to commercialization; a sketch of the industry’s current structure, including competitive and regulatory analysis within this context; and major factors impelling and impeding global growth.Not included in this report, except for when inclusion of such information provides context for better understanding of the core topics being discussed, are:
Monocrystalline silicon photovoltaics.
Polycrystalline silicon photovoltaics.
Solar thermal technologies.
Concentrating solar power (as differentiated from concentrating photo-voltaics).
Other renewable energy generation technologies such as wind, geothermal, etc.


Information for this report was obtained through primary and secondary sources, including interviews, corporate news releases, corporate and research institution reports and studies, financial filings (SEC forms as well as equivalent foreign equity market filings), and equity market data.Additionally, macro-level data was obtained and analyzed from a multitude of governmental or quasi-governmental sources, including (but not limited to):
International Energy Agency (IEA)
International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)
Joint Research Centre of the European Commission
United States Department of Energy (DOE), and associated agencies including the DOE’s
Energy Information Administration (EIA)
Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE)
National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
Sandia, Los Alamos, Brookhaven, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories
United States Naval Research Laboratory (NRL)
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Instituto para la Diversificación y Ahorro de la Energía (IDAE/government of Spain)
Secretaría de Energía (government of Mexico)
Centro de Energías Renovables (government of Chile)
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and others

Data from academic and professional research institutes and consortiums were also utilized, including from:
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE)
Stanford University
Cornell University
University of California-Berkeley
University of Toronto
Instituto de Energía Solar (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid)
École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne), and others

Additionally, information from industry and trade organizations was analyzed, including the:
European Photovoltaic Industry Association
Solar Energy Industries Association
Organic Electronics Association
Data from each of these sources were synthesized and analyzed by BCC Research to arrive at the forecasts provided in the body of this report.

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