Thin-film Solar Modules in the Crystalline-Silicon dominated Solar World – Solar Frontier
An Interview @REI 2016
Thin-film technology was one of the earliest solar panel technologies adopted in the world. The market for thin-film PV grew at a 60% annual rate from 2002 to 2007. But today, the market is almost completely dominated by the crystalline-silicon modules – mono or poly. Almost 90% of the World’s photovoltaics today are based on some variation of silicon. This is because Crystalline-Silicon panels are most cost-effective and takes up lesser space.
Over the last five years, almost all of solar manufacturing capacity built has been for crystalline silicon (c-Si). Over that time, the alternative to silicon — called thin film — has gone from being “the next big thing” to “highly questionable.” With over 100 thin film companies either sold, merged or just dead, it is legitimate to ask: “Is thin film dead?”
Solar Frontier says a resounding NO.
Solar Frontier is one of the very few companies left in the world that develops and manufactures thin film solar cells using CIGS technology. Solar Frontier’s parent company Showa Shell Sekiyu had been involved with solar energy since 1978. Headquartered in Tokyo, Showa Shell Sekiyu is one of the leading energy companies in Japan.
Solar Frontier’s solar modules are known for their higher electricity yield in actual operating conditions.
Solar Mango team was able to catch up with Mr.Hiroshi Yagi – Deputy General Manager (Global Business Organization) of Solar Frontier for a brief interview during the recent REI Expo 2016, held at Noida. A quick snapshot of the interview is given below:
Interview with Solar Frontier
What are the key products and solutions Surana Solar provides to the Indian solar sector?
We manufacture thin film solar modules using CIGS technology. We have a presence in India for over 10 years now.
Which are the key end user segments for your products and solutions?
We sell primarily to large solar developers and IPPs.
What are the highlights and USPs of your products and solutions?
Our panels are costly, heavy and number-wise lower efficiency than crystalline modules. Yet we believe that thin film modules are going to rule the world in the future because of its one big advantage – greater power output for the given area of operation. This has been well-proven and that is why we still have select takers for our products.
Any future products and solutions you are coming up with for the Indian market?
We are working on light-weight thin film modules. We will be launching soon.
What are the key learnings you have had from the Indian solar energy sector so far?
India solar market is growing very rapidly. It is dominated by the crystalline modules. But there are large IPPs who still prefer our thin film modules.
What, according to you, are the key challenges faced by the Indian Solar market?
Quality consciousness has been very low in the Indian solar market. Lack of knowledge about various technologies has been a challenge for us.