Capacity utilization for solar panel suppliers at 0.46 for 2008 says The Information Network
Jan 15, 2008
A huge oversupply of solar panels planned for production in 2008 will drop capacity utilization to 0.46, according to a report Opportunities in The Solar Cell Market For Thin Film Technology, recently published by The Information Network (www.theinformationnet.com), a New Tripoli, PA-based market research company.
"In the past few years we have witnessed a stampede of startups entering the solar cell market using thin film technology because of a shortage of polysilicon material used to make crystalline cells," noted Dr. Castellano, President of The Information Network. "At the same time, existing suppliers have announced large expansions as a means to reduce production costs and gain a competitive edge."
At the same time, polysilicon suppliers have also initiated competitive capacity expansion plans.
Solar equipment suppliers such as Applied Materials and Oerlikon are selling amorphous silicon technology. Traditional crystalline and polycrystalline silicon solar panels with efficiencies between 15% and 22% compare to thin film amorphous silicon of 6% to 7%, which will possibility increase to 10% efficiencies in 2009 using bilayer micromorph structures. CdTe (cadmium telluride) technology, led by First Solar, is already achieving 10% efficiency. Thus, amorphous silicon is two years behind CdTe.
The Information Network's forecast calls for solar panel production to reach 5.6 gigawatts (GW) in 2008, up from 3.8 GW in 2007. The report tracks production capacity at nearly 100 solar panel producers worldwide. In 2008, capacity will reach 12.2 GW, yielding a capacity utilization of 0.46.
"The low capacity utilization will only slightly improve in 2009 and 2010, growing to 0.51 and 0.55, respectively" added Dr. Castellano. "The low utilization should impact equipment and materials sales in the thin film area. As the shortage of polysilicon dissipates, due to ramped production and a semiconductor slowdown, prices of crystalline silicon solar panels will drop and become economically competitive with thin film technology, further exasperating thin film equipment sales."
The Information Network is a leading consulting and market research company addressing the semiconductor, LCD, HDD, and solar industries.