Super Thin Solar is Struggling In a Market Flush with Cheaper Panels

Super Thin Solar is Struggling In a Market Flush with Cheaper Panels

US-headquartered Dow Chemical will start supplying roofing tiles this year incorporating flexible PV technology and Solar Frontier’s super thin-film PV panels are being incorporated in a 100 MW Californian project. Solar is finally taking off in Singapore, with Phoenix Solar making its mark and property developer CDL, utilising solar in award-winning projects. Pictured are two of the largest solar roofs in Singapore, at Changi Airport (left) and Tampines Grande (right).

Sara Ver-Bruggen n Plastic Electronics Magazine (12 January 2012):

Flexible photovoltaic (PV) modules are thin and light – and what they lack in efficiency is being offset against constraints inherent in conventional crystalline PV modules. Suppliers of second generation, flexible, thinfilm modules and emerging organic solar cells are targeting the opportunities.

Thin-film PV technology has been undermined in recent months by crystalline silicon PV. China’s investment in PV manufacturing has driven down the prices of silicon PV modules.

This, coupled with generous government subsidy schemes around the world, means the market for PV is 80% crystalline silicon. The trend has countered much of the impetus that was previously driving the thin-film PV industry. Cell efficiencies are much lower and modules themselves are more expensive than crystalline silicon.

The result is that the solar industry is re-evaluating alternative PV technologies. New technologies cannot compete on cost alone. As we are seeing with OLED lighting, the differentiating factors of a new technology have to be demonstrated to those markets that will value them.


A substantial proportion of the BIPV rooftop market cannot be met by mainstream, rigid and glass-encased PV modules, because many roofs are not able to support their load.

In 2012 US-headquartered Dow Chemical will start supplying roofing tiles – or shingles as they are called in the US – incorporating Global Solar’s flexible PV technology.

The solar shingles can be fixed onto roofs like conventional shingles and easily connected to turn the roof into a solar array. These products are not new, but previous PV tiles, using amorphous silicon laminates, have had limited success, partly because efficiencies were too low.

Commercial buildings, particularly industrial sheds, are ideal. The metal elements used to construct the walls and roofs can be laminated with PV films or coatings in the factory. The approach is potentially more cost-effective than buying and installing the PV module separately.

Other OPV companies are also exploring BIPV. Heliatek, in Dresden, Germany, says its modules will go into production in a roll-to-roll process on low-cost foils by mid-2012.

This article appears in full in Volume 4, issue 3 of +Plastic Electronics magazine.



By Andrew Burger in Clean Technica (18 January 2012):

Solar Frontier, a subsidiary of Japan’s Showa Shell Sekiyu KK, and France’s EDF Energies Nouvelles yesterday announced the largest deal to date in in the nascent market for thin-film CIGS (Copper-Indium-Gallium-Selenium) solar photovoltaic (PV) panels.

Solar Frontier is to supply up to 150-megawatts -peak (MWp) of its thin-film CIGS panels to enXco, EDF Energies Novelles’ project development group, which is building the 100+ MW Catalina Solar Project in Kern County, California, according to a company news release. Solar Frontier delivered an initial 26 MWp of its CIGS panels for the Catalina project in 4Q 2011.

To be built in two phases, the first 60 MW of capacity is due on-line by year-end 2012. When the anticipated second phase of construction is completed by June, 2013, the Catalina Solar Project will have a capacity of 100+ MW, enough to supply some 35,000 homes with clean, renewable energy, offsetting some 74,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year.



Singapore’s leading developer, City Developments Limited, has once again raised the bar for green building with 7 & 9 Tampines Grande, an exceptional showcase of a sustainable green building – from design, to construction, maintenance, and use, winning the Sustainable Development Category in the FIABCI Prix d’Excellence Awards 2011.

CDL envisioned 7 & 9 Tampines Grande as a cutting-edge, new generation green office, designed with environment sustainability in mind. The 27,880 square meters development, housed within two 8-storey office blocks, embraces the largest and most extensive use of solar innovations in a commercial property in Singapore, generating 203,000 kWh of clean energy, installed by Phoenix Solar.

For the first time in Singapore, an innovative solar air-conditioning system has been incorporated into a building that generates sufficient air-conditioning for the Atrium – an estimated volume of 2,500 cubic meters. It is also the first commercial project in Singapore to ingeniously use Building Integrated Photovoltaic Panels as part of the building’s façade, innovatively engineered for aesthetic treatment.

An effective twin-strategy of utilizing passive low energy architectural design and energyefficient eco features has led to significant overall energy savings amounting to 2.7 million kWh per year and an overall reduction in CO2 emission by approximately 1,400 tonnes per year for the entire building.

In 2008, Tampines Grande was awarded the Green Mark Platinum (the highest rating given to green buildings in Singapore) by the Building and Construction Authority – Singapore’s governing body for the built environment. In 2009, it also become the first completed development in Singapore to achieve the LEED Gold Certification under the Core & Shell Category, established by the United States Green Building Council and verified by the Green Building Certification Institute.

As one of the solar test-bed projects under the Government’s Solar Capability Scheme, aimed at building up critical capabilities in Singapore’s solar eco-system, Tampines Grande has also helped to grow the industry’s green expertise and encouraged others to explore more sustainable technologies.

Phoenix Solar Pte Ltd Singapore was 1st runner-up in the ASEAN Energy Awards – Renewable Energy Competition (On-grid Category)

Phoenix Solar Pte Ltd installed the innovative 250kWp grid-tied system that generates clean energy at Changi Airport’s Budget Terminal becoming Southeast Asia’s first commercial airport with a solar PV power plant. The PV panels also contribute to a reduction in air conditioning load by shading the roof from direct sunshine.

Becoming Southeast Asia’s first commercial airport with a solar PV power plant–an innovative 250kWp grid-tied system that generates clean energy at Changi Airport’s Budget Terminal. The PV panels also contribute to a reduction in air-conditioning load by shading the roof from direct sunshine.

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