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Home > News > The Future of Thin Film: Beyond the Hype

March 29th, 2010

The Future of Thin Film: Beyond the Hype

Abstract:
From only 17 MW in 2002 to 966 MW in 2008, thin film's rise over the last decade has been remarkable indeed. Fueled by the greatest success story in the PV industry -- cadmium telluride producer First Solar -- the technology has captured the imagination of industry participants and interested observers alike. First Solar represents the disruptive potential of thin-film PV in full: high throughput (1,111 megawatts in 2009), competitive efficiency (11%), and an industry-leading cost (currently 83 cents per watt), enabling significant profit (the only pure-play solar company to be listed on the S&P index). From market entry in 2002, the company has gone on to become the largest PV module producer in the world. The basis for this remarkable turnaround was a fundamental insight on part of investor/entrepreneur Harold McMaster in the early 1980s: that "the essential cost element of large area solar arrays was glass, and [he] could treat the actual solar cell as simply a different kind of coating on glass." In other words, thin-film PV represented a technology that could be manufactured using glass' high-throughput coating process instead of the slow, cumbersome batch process of traditional crystalline silicon wafer-based PV -- an approach that had one-hundredth the feedstock requirement.

Source:
greentechmedia.com

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