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Jun 4th, 2014
 
Photovoltaics: where are the opportunities for innovation?
 
“It is time to reinforce and reshape R&D efforts to speed-up the photovoltaic business”, announces Yole Développment (Yole) in its latest report “Emerging and Innovative Approaches in Photovoltaics”. The photovoltaic market is showing signs of renewed optimism. Investors are renewing their interest in photovoltaic start-up companies developing emerging photovoltaic technologies and applications. Equipment makers are finding new opportunities in equipment sales, either to increase production capacity in existing facilities or to build new ones. Big players, especially in China, are increasing their acquisition activities in order to secure a competitive advantage. All of these developments open new opportunities for R&D funding, and the possibility to transfer R&D achievements into an industrial environment. At the same time, the increased performance and decreasing cost of photovoltaic components and systems will allow for new applications and wider use of photovoltaic technology for electricity generation.
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Yole’s report is an overview of the photovoltaic technologies (crystalline silicon, CIGS, organic PHOTOVOLTAIC, etc.) and related applications. Under this analysis, Yole’s analysts detail the customers’ key criteria for photovoltaic products. They analyze the innovation failures’ origins and identify opportunities for innovations and key factors of success. “With this report, our aim is to provide a deep understanding of the photovoltaic technologies trends and how they can match with end users’ expectations…“explains Dr Milan Rosina, Technology & Market Analyst at Yole Développement.


Although photovoltaic industry has reached a relatively high level of technological maturity,with many products commercially available today, strong efforts are underway to:

  • Develop new solar cell technologies
  • Improve the performance of existing ones
  • Expand new applications for solar cells

For most conventional applications, where photovoltaic serves solely to generate electricity, it’s difficult to compete with continuously improving crystalline silicon technology, which dominates the photovoltaic market with more than 85% market share. Therefore, most developers of alternative technologies are focused on other functionalities (flexibility, color, low-light performance, indoor light performance, etc.) and on alternative application segments. Moreover, tandem and multijunction hybrid approaches, such as a multijunction solar cell, are also being studied.

The large number of process steps in photovoltaic product manufacturing provides great potential for innovative solutions: by avoiding, replacing, improving or adding process steps and materials used, a combination of many “small” improvements can lead to better performance and lower manufacturing costs. “To succeed at PV innovation, many criteria must be fulfilled and critical mistakes must be avoided”, details Milan. Based on an analysis of technology push and end-users’ needs, the main approaches to successful photovoltaics innovation are identified in this report. To get more information about this analysis, go to www.i-micronews.com, photovoltaic reports section.

 

 
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