Identifying emerging PV technologies

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With the Disruptive PV Technology Grid, Lux Research aims to identify the innovations in materials and cell designs that will aid in the stabilisation of module prices at US$0.90 per Watt, while the cost of goods will fall, thanks to improved cell efficiencies, cheaper processes and thinner wafers.

With the aid of this grid, Lux Research analysts will be able to evaluate upcoming technologies to assess which ones will change the face of photovoltaics and which ones will not see any commercial success. Among the findings:

  • Direct solidification provides cheaper wafers. Direct solidification of molten Si offers the best way toward kerfless wafering (which eliminates losses from sawing), a Holy Grail for the solar industry. This technology is a "top target" on the Disruptive PV Technology Grid with a market size of up to $600 million. 1366 Technologies is the clear leader, expected to be the first to reach commercialization by 2013.
  • Alternatives to cell efficiency increases. Anti-reflective and light-trapping coatings are second-tier technologies, but among the "top targets" with a market size of over $600 million. They provide cost-effective alternatives for efficiency gains. Natcore is the leader in this space with likely commercialization this year.
  • New active layers over the horizon. Copper zinc tin sulfide (CZTS) cell technology will eventually cannibalize thin film copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) market share through use of cheaper materials, eliminating the use of indium and gallium. Epitaxial Si (epi-Si) technology, which is thin monocrystalline silicon, has the potential to replace amorphous silicon (a-Si) infrastructure and reach higher efficiencies than a-Si modules.

"Emerging PV technologies that are easy to scale, result in module efficiency gains, and reduced capital and materials costs will be game-changers for struggling module makers," says Fatima Toor, Lux Research Analyst and the lead author of the report titled, Searching for Game Changers in Photovoltaic Materials Innovations: Next-Generation Technologies that Drive Down $/W.