According to an 8-page excerpt [pdf] of a report from industry analyst NanoMarkets LLC, the market for photovoltaic encapsulation and substrates might reach as high as $1.3 billion by 2017, a scarce six years in the future.
Founded in 2005, NanoMarkets offers information to the energy,advanced materials and devices sector in such areas as smart grids,organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs), photovoltaics (PVs), and batteryenergy storage devices.
This report, titled “Encapsulation and Flexible Substrates for Organic and Dye-Sensitized Photovoltaics,” notes that organic photovoltaics (or OPVs, which are typically polymers; that is, carbon-based) are among the most technologically sensitive applications when it comes to degradation via air or moisture. For this reason, various promising PV technologieshave fallen by the wayside, since the cost to bring them to market isprohibitive.
The report also notes a growing field in which encapsulationproviders can develop newer and better systems to sell to the OPV anddye-sensitized (DSC) cell PV segments. In this area, because OPV cells are notablyshort-lived (10 to 20 years even when encapsulated in glass), the report suggests integrating high-performance architectural glass, whose costcould easily be reduced by advanced production techniques and greatermarket uptake.
By addressing encapsulation needs and opportunities (among materialsand suppliers), and by delineating its forecasting methodology, thereport offers the struggling OPV and DSC marketplaces – which findcommercialization difficult due to cost, energy conversion efficiencies, and longevity or durability – an opportunity to visualize and identifyalternatives outside of a research lab or production run, at leastinitially, and suggests that overcoming these obstacles will allow bothOPV and DSC to penetrate the building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) market, which is essential to the future survival of both discrete venues.
Succinctly expressed, the report suggests that there are two obviousways to address the encapsulation problems that OPV and DSC face. One is to confine production to products that are not exposed to weather – adefinite fail – or to spend more on encapsulation (i.e., architecturalglass), without which both may be “forced to rely on tiny market nichesin order to eke out a living.”
The report builds on a similar one published in October of 2010 and offers insider information on strategies from companies like Corning, DuPont, Konarka and Solarmer to improve the thin-film solar industry.