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Emerging and Innovative Approaches in Photovoltaics
Jun.2014

yole pv-innovations main-approaches june 2014
5 990 €

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Description

YOLE EmergingPV 2014It’s time to reinforce and reshape R&D efforts to speed-up the PV business

NOW IS THE TIME FOR INNOVATION!

2012 - 2013 was a tough time for most PV manufacturers, as they faced difficulties due to strongly decreasing market prices resulting from an overcrowded market and high total manufacturing overcapacities. During this period the industry was focused on securing short-term sales, and there was little investment in new equipment and R&D activities.

But now the PV market is showing signs of renewed optimism. Investors are renewing their interest in PV start-up companies developing emerging PV 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 PV components and systems will allow for new applications and wider use of PV technology for electricity generation.

PHOTOVOLTAICS: WHERE ARE THE OPPORTUNITIES FOR INNOVATION?

Although photovoltaics (PV) has reached a relatively high level of technological maturity, with many PV products commercially available today, strong efforts are underway to develop new solar cell technologies, to improve the performance of existing ones and to develop new applications for solar cells.

Yole PV-Innovations PV-Market-technology June 2014
Yole PV-Innovations A-large-number June 2014


In this report, the PV industry’s main technology and market trends are presented, and the suitability of different PV technologies (crystalline silicon, CIGS, organic PV, etc.) for various applications is analyzed - with a focus on existing potential for further innovations.

For most conventional applications, where PV serves solely to generate electricity, it’s difficult to compete with continuously improving crystalline silicon technology, which dominates the PV market (>85% market share). Therefore, most developers of alternative PV technologies are focused on other PV 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 PV 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.

HOW TO SUCCEED AT PV INNOVATION?

To succeed at PV innovation, many criteria must be fulfilled and critical mistakes must be avoided. Based on an analysis of technology push and end-users’ needs, the main approaches to successful photovoltaics innovation are identified in this report. Also, the 10 main causes of innovation failure are presented. Although many technology developers focus on novel PV functionalities, PV module technology maturity, efficiency and system costs are still the most common criteria of choice for PV products.

Yole PV-Innovations Main-approaches June 2014



As detailed in this report, the criteria of choice - such as flexibility, transparency, color aspects and low-light performance - do not currently provide a proposition value high enough to develop a significant PV market.

Numerous R&D and industrial minds (and even dreamers too) have, throughout the decades of PV development, considered virtually all possible PV applications. As such, it’s very difficult to invent a completely new PV application. Therefore, new PV applications will most likely be based on old ideas and concepts made possible because of innovative technology approaches or new PV technologies.

Innovation success depends on many technology and market-related factors. An understanding of market pull is thus extremely important. PV has reached a relatively high level of technological maturity and is now application-driven. It is the customer, not the technology developer, who decides the necessary product specifications and the best technological approach to reach the target.

An accurate estimation of total accessible market, the identification of the customer’s needs, and potential applications for a given technology approach are crucial to finding the right partners, investors and customers.

With plenty of existing technologies and products, some innovations encounter difficulties in becoming cost-competitive within the PV market. However, these innovations can sometimes be successfully applied in other (non-PV) applications, such as LED, OLED, compound semiconductors, printed electronics, flexible electronics and CMOS sensors. Therefore, a global understanding of technology-application relationships and market trends is very helpful for PV innovators and investors.



Table of contents

Introduction 6
Scope of the report 7
Executive summary 11
Key messages for a PV innovation developer 37
> Advantages and disadvantages of PV - overview & sources of business opportunities for innovations!
> Variability of the electrical power supplied by a PV system
> PV = a big opportunity for innovations
> Overview of main PV technologies
> Comparison of different PV technologies
> Ideal PV technology/device
> The crystalline silicon PV wins - PV market technology choice: past visions and today’s reality
> Large variety of PV applications
> PV Source vs. PV Solution
> Examples of PV solutions
> Is PV a mature technology?
> PV = application-driven market
> New manufacturing facilities = opportunity for transfer of innovations to the industry

Insight into some innovative technology approaches 57
> Description of Yole’s innovation profile
> List of innovation profiles
> Yole’s positioning of the featured innovative approaches
> Higher efficiency & lower manufacturing costs
> Market traction & time-to-market
> Polysilicon produced by the Fluidized Bed Reactor (FBR) process
> Perovskite solar cells
> ThermoPVs (TPV)
> Nanowire-based solar cells
> Flexible PV
- Overview
- Why go “flexible”?
- How many flexible devices do we need?
- Requirements
- How to get flexible?
- How to develop the flexible business?
- Flexible PV cell & module developers and manufacturers - split by technology and deposition method
- Flexible PV - supply chain
> Encapsulation and barrier technology solutions for flexible PV
> Silicon heterojunction technology
> Ultra-thin silicon wafers
> Ion-implanted-emitter c-Si solar cell
> Invisible transparent PV
> Space-Based Solar Power (SBSP)

PV technology and market 109
> Extraordinary 2000-2013 PV market growth
> Comparison of PV with nuclear power
> Peak-power and yearly electricity production
> Disadvantages of PVs
> PV is a “surface-related” technology
> “Business after business” opportunity

Overview of PV technologies 121
> Solar electricity generation - three competing system technologies at a glance
> PV system approaches - PV & CPV
> PV technologies - overview of active materials used in solar cells
> PV technologies - focus on different substrates
> Main PV product categories
- Rigid photovoltaics
- Flexible cells & flexible modules
> Industrial module efficiencies
> Overview of PV technologies - potential for non-conventional applications
> PV technologies - state-of-the-art
> Development status for different PV technologies - rigid & flexible
> PV technologies - comparison of flexible PV technologies – pros & cons
> Semitransparent PV modules - three different approaches to creating a semitransparent PV module
> Semitransparent PV modules - are OPV modules really transparent?

Overview of PV applications 139
> Classification of PV applications
- Ground-mounted PV plants
- Horizontal roofs
- Pitched roofs
- Facades
- Semitransparent roofs and facades
- Applications in transport
- Applications in urban systems
- Consumer applications
- Military applications
- Special applications
> Focus on BIPV
- BIPV & BAPV
- Why does BIPV remain a niche market?
> Which technology for which application?


Where is the potential for innovations? 155
> Criteria for a PV technology/device choice
> Why is crystalline silicon PV so successful?
> Where are the opportunities for alternatives to crystalline silicon PV?
> Innovation vs. technology breakthrough
> What are the necessary conditions for successful innovation?
> How to succeed with PV innovation
> The key criteria for getting novel cell approaches into industrial production
> How to get novel solar cell approaches into industrial production
> The 10 most common origins of innovation failures – overview
1. Considering PV as a local business
2. Overestimation of customer demand for some markets/technologies
3. Neglecting the customer’s perception of value proposition for a given technology/product
4. Underestimating competing alternative (including non-PV) solutions
5. Large PV market potential is not equal to large PV market potential for a specific technology/product
6. Neglecting the “moving target” effect
7. Dependence on “temporary opportunity windows”
8. Underestimation of technological complexity for new PV approaches
9. Innovation non-compatible with the whole production process up to the final product. Example of ultra-thin wafers
10. Underestimation/overestimation of environmental issues
> Concluding remarks
> Diverse strategies to success
> Trends towards higher PV conversion efficiency
> Many process steps = many opportunities for innovation
> Example of the crystalline silicon PV value-chain
> Where is the place for innovations?
- New PV technology
1. Available at lower manufacturing costs
2. With higher PV conversion efficiency
3. With novel features
- Improving an existing PV technology
1. Where is the potential for improvement?
2. Catching up the technology lead?
- Is there still a place for innovation in PV applications?
> Examples of unusual PV applications
> PV electricity production for clean mobility
> PV in the automotive industry
> More potential applications = lower R&D and business development risk
> How to reduce the risk related to investment in PV technology approaches?

PV R&D activities and main players 218

> What is the best time for innovation?
> Do we need public funding for “mature” technologies?
> Main PV R&D institutions
> Large companies with strong PV R&D
Conclusions 224




Companies cited

3M
Airbus
AIST
Aixtron
Amtech
Ascent Solar
Alta Devices
Applied Materials
Astronergy
Astrowatt
Bandgap Engineering
Beneq
BerkenEnergy
Bloo Solar
Canadian Solar
CEA
Choshu Industry
CrayoNano
crystalsol
CSEM
DRAPER Laboratory
ECN
Ecole Polytechnique
EMPA
Encapsulix
EPFL
First Solar
Flisom

Fraunhofer ISE
Fraunhofer CSP
GCL
Georgia Tech
Hanergy
Heliatek
Helmoltz Zentrum Berlin (HZB)
ibs
imec
IMRE
INES
JAXA
Jusung
JX Crystals
Kaneka
Intevac
Lund University
MiaSolé
MBraun
Merck
Meyer Burger
MIT
NASA
NREL
NTNU
Oxford Photovoltaics
Panasonic
PG&E


RDECOM
REC Silicon
REC Solar
Samsung
Samsung Fine Chemicals
SERIS
SiGen
Sigma-Aldrich
Silevo
Singulus
SMP
Soitec
Solar Frontier
Solarforce
Solaren
Solarion
Solexel
SolVoltaics
SunEdison
SunFlake
Suniva
SunPartner Technologies
Sunpower Corporation
Terra-Barrier Films
Tethers Unlimited
Total
UCLA
Veeco

 

KEY FEATURES OF THE REPORT

  • Overview and segmentation of PV technologies and PV applications
  • Analysis of the customers’ key criteria for photovoltaic products
  • Analysis of the main origins of innovation failures
  • Identification of opportunities for innovations in the PV industry
  • Innovation profiles: insight into some innovative PV approaches