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Photovoltaics Market: A Global Outlook

SpecialChem / Sreeparna Das – Dec 9, 2009

The solar power market has been growing rapidly in the past decade as a result of widespread awareness about the limited nature of petroleum-based resources, their negative impact on the environment and high volatility of oil prices. Photovoltaic technology has huge potential in this regard as it has a unique advantage, that being the absence of any limitations when it comes to either technology or physical growth. However, the high manufacturing costs of modules has so far limited the growth of PV and prevented it from joining the energy mainstream. But the industry has consistently demonstrated its ability to cut costs and as a result the technology is being developed and new materials are being tested to reduce costs and improve conversion efficiency. According to a recent study by the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA), based on the current pace of progression in technology and installation volumes, the cost of PV electricity is expected to decline 8% each year, halving the generation cost every 8 years. With respect to new material development, advancements in high performance polymers (PMMA, silicones, EVA, polyimides, fluoropolymers, etc.) will play a major role in bringing down the cost as they form an integral part of Photovoltaic systems, where they find application in various components including encapsulants, backing sheets, frames, sealants & adhesives, thin film substrates, glazing, Fresnel lenses, and photoactive components in organic photovoltaics.

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