Applications like building-integrated photovoltaics provide a small, but profitable opportunity for thin-film suppliers, says Lux Research
BOSTON, MA – June 24, 2014 – After a string of failures in trying to displace crystalline silicon in core application segments, many thin-film solar manufacturers have sought out smaller, niche markets where they can leverage flexibility, light weight, and aesthetic attributes. Supplier consolidation and slow adoption have led to additional failures and poor sentiment. However, a suite of niche applications will combine to a market worth 1.2 GW in 2024, led by building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) that incorporate PV panels directly in building roofs, skylights or facades, according to Lux Research.
“Technology barriers including the need for high-quality barrier films, and integrators’ hesitance, have slowed growth in these markets to date,” said Edward Cahill, Lux Research Analyst and lead author of the report titled, “Into the Niche: Putting a Magnifying Glass on PV’s Tiniest Markets.”
“Market adoption has been limited and will remain small relative to conventional solar demand, but the niche application can be a profitable side business that supports a core business market,” he added.
Lux Research analysts used a logistics curve analysis to forecast markets for niche applications through 2024. Among their findings:
- Facades are the fastest-growing segment for BIPV. Roofing products like solar shingles have the most traction in BIPV, accounting for 425 MW, or nearly half its market. But facades will grow faster – at a 20% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) – to 407 MW.
- Skyrocketing rechargers drive electronics. Electronics will emerge the fastest-growing segment of the thin-film PV market, driven by solar chargers popular with outdoor enthusiasts and off-grid users. The rechargers will grow 31-fold to 125 MW (199 MW) in 2024.
- Asia gains momentum. EMEA will remain the largest niche PV market – growing from 66 MW in 2013 to 505 MW in 2024. However, Asia-Pacific will expand faster, growing at a 23% CAGR from 27 MW to 315 MW, while the Americas market will grow steadily from 61 MW to 340 MW.
The report, titled “Into the Niche: Putting a Magnifying Glass on PV’s Tiniest Markets,” is part of the Lux Research Solar Intelligence service.