Industry utilization, however, is forecast to remain below 60%. While prices have stopped falling, no significant increases are expected and profitability for wafer makers will remain challenging as a result.
Multicrystalline silicon (multi c-Si) technology is forecast to continue its dominance of the wafer market in the short to midterm. However, the higher efficiency solar cells that can be produced using monocrystalline silicon (mono c-Si) wafers remain in demand for applications with restricted space and the higher attributes allow premium pricing compared to standard multi c-Si modules.
Rapid growth in Japan in particular is creating demand for premium efficiency modules that use mono c-Si wafers.
"Supported by attractive solar PV incentive rates, Japan will account for more than 10% of global PV demand in 2013," said NPD Solarbuzz Vice President Charles Annis. With a strong rooftop segment and limitations on the availability of land for large-scale ground-mount installations, Japan has now become a key driver for mono c-Si based modules."
According to NPD Solarbuzz, improvements in mono ingot production and module efficiencies will be required for mono c-Si wafers to increase their market share compared to multi c-Si wafers.
Annis added: "Multi c-Si wafer manufacturers are constantly improving casting approaches and developing new high-efficiency multi-wafers. Leading wafer manufacturers are now selling high-efficiency multi c-Si wafers with efficiencies as high as 18%, which is in the range of low end mono c-Si wafers, and thus helps maintain the competitiveness of multi c-Si based products."
In the long term, NPD Solarbuzz says n-type mono c-Si wafers and enhanced mono performance supported by advanced cell designs and manufacturing have the potential to lower total costs per watt and enable faster growth of the mono c-Si wafer market.
If the technologies prove successful, NPD Solarbuzz forecasts mono c-Si cell production will grow at a faster rate than multi c-Si cells beginning in 2015, expanding into more applications and increasing market share.
This content is protected by copyright and may not be reused. If you want to cooperate with us and would like to reuse some of our content, please contact: email@example.com.