The photovoltaic PV market has been both booming for the past few years yet also remains an extremely volatile sector for suppliers. In 2011 alone, the total global installed capacity was 22 GW. Currently, crystalline silicon devices control 85 of market, with the remainder being captured by a range of thin film PV devices including CdTe, CIGS, and a-Si. Margins are increasingly tight for on-grid technologies.
Now there is a third-wave of PV technologies entering the market. This wave consists of dye sensitised solar cells DSSC and organic photovoltaics OPV. In this report, we provide a detailed assessment of the technology and markets for OPVs, which are being used where conventional PV cannot go, changing the value-added opportunity.
OPVs bring the following attributes to the market: a excellent form factor, b good performance under indoor lighting conditions, c low capital expenditure, and d potentially very low energy production costs using printable plastics. Based on these value propositions, OPVs will not only target existing markets, but will also enable new ones, which existing solutions may not have been able to address.
Not all is well with OPVs, however. The efficiency levels are low, despite the fact that the active semiconductor can be synthesised from many different molecular and polymeric materials. The lifetime is in the order of days if the device is exposed to ambient conditions and existing commercial encapsulants can extend it only to 2-3 years. The constituent materials are still in low-volume production and therefore command high prices.
In this report, we develop technology roadmaps or guidelines, which forecast improvements in module efficiency, lifetime and costs over the next decade. These roadmaps are developed based on extensive interviews with researchers, material suppliers, manufacturers and integrators around the world. They provide a practical insight into how the technology is likely to evolve.
IDTechEx also assess the merits of OPV technologies for a diverse range of market segments, including automotive, posters and point-of-purchase PoP advertisements, apparel clothes, sportswear, military uniforms, etc, customer electronics e-readers, mobile phones, watches, toys, etc, off-grid applications for the developing world, power generation, and building integrated photovoltaics. For each application, we interview developers and end-users and perform detailed numerical estimates.
IDTechEx estimate that the market today is $4.6 million and forecast that it will rise to $630 million in 2022. The market growth will be predominantly driven by electronics in apparel, posters and PoP smart labels, and off-grid developing world applications. OPVs will nonetheless remain a small player on the greater PV scene, obtaining total market shares 1.5.
The recent bankruptcy of Konarka is consistent with our assessment of the technology. Konarka was a leading company in the OPV space and had raised approximately $170 million and acquired an ex Polaroid facility at a reduced price. In spite of these but consistent with our roadmaps, their technology remained an overpriced option with limited lifetime at a time when the entire PV industry was experiencing severe cost pressures and small margins.