GBI Research's new report, “Semiconductors in Solar PV Power Systems to 2015 - Government Incentives and Feed-in Tariffs to Create Growth Potential for Semiconductor Manufacturers” provides key information and analysis on the market opportunities in the semiconductors industry for solar PV application. The report covers the industry dynamics, information on the revenue of the semiconductors in solar PV power systems, and the market share of the suppliers. The report also provides product - based and region-based forecasts up to 2015. Analysis and forecasts are also given for the different product types used in solar PV power systems like PV cells, IGBTs, couplers, logic IC, analog IC, micro components and optical semiconductors.
Technological advancements are being made to improve the efficiency of semiconductors, in order to increase the performance of the solar photovoltaic (PV) system. The use of silicon carbide (SiC) metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistors (MOSFETs) in PV inverters is increasing the efficiency of the PV inverters by reducing the switching and conduction losses of transistors and diodes. In PV cells, the substrate technology used is being changed to attain higher efficiency levels. In the crystalline cells, single crystal and multi-crystalline technologies are being replaced by ultra thin silicon and ribbon silicon technologies. Likewise, in thin-film cells, amorphous silicon and CdTe is being replaced by CIGS.
Government incentives and FITs are a form of support for investors in the renewable energy market. This in turn creates growth potential for semiconductors in solar PV systems. With the support of FITs and government incentives, the number of PV system installations has increased in many regions. The increase in PV installations in European countries such as the major markets of Germany and Italy, have increased the market for semiconductors used in PV system. Companies, such as Suntech, have increased the production capacities of solar modules in 2010, and increased shipments to facilitate the demand. This shows that the demand for semiconductors in solar PV systems is increasing with the increasing installations, which are driven by the FITs and incentives. Countries like Czech Republic, Canada, France and the UK emerged as key markets for PV installations and because of this, the semiconductors market in these countries grew due to the FIT programs implemented in these countries. Several states such as Hawaii, California, Florida, New Jersey and Washington have fixed tariffs which attract PV installation investors. The state-level FIT in the US is based on the German FIT model. To capture the potential in such regions, companies like JA Solar were discussing the possibility of establishing a solar cell production base in US and enter the Canadian market. The sales revenue of the semiconductors in solar PV systems was $27.75 billion in 2011 and is expected to reach $32.06 billion by the end of 2015.
Technological advancements are being made to improve the efficiency of the PV system and reduce the cost per watt. Further improvements must be made to reduce the cost per watt and increase the efficiency of the industry to reach grid parity. For this, research must be done to reduce the energy losses that are taking place in the solar PV system and increase the efficiency of the semiconductors that are used in the solar PV systems. Countries like Spain and China have government support for R&D activities to improve the efficiency of the system and reduce the costs of modules, or the system as a whole. China's 973 Scheme supports the development of future solar PV technologies, including backing for the technical and theoretical development of thin-film and dye sensitized solar cells. Japan also started a project in 2008 with a budget of JPY2 billion ($25.60m). The program aims to improve the performance and demonstrate the feasibility of PV power generation technology by applying new materials and new solar cell structures. To reach the targets set by the government bodies and meet the expectations of the PV investors to increase the installations, technological advancements must take place at a faster rate. Efforts must be made to reduce the cost of crystalline cells and increase the efficiency of thin-film cells to overcome the disadvantages of these technologies. To improve efficiency, reducing the switching and conduction losses of transistors and diodes in the PV system, will be a challenge for manufacturers. Such technological changes will also help the industry reach grid parity and reduce the dependence on government incentives.