North Coast Solar Stocks

November 10, 2009

Thin-film share of solar market to double – report

Filed under: AMAT, FSLR, SPWR, STP — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 5:06 pm

Tue Nov 10, 2009 5:06pm EST

* Thin film to account for 31 pct of solar panels in 2013

* Technology had 14 pct market share in 2008

* Research says First Solar established market viability

LOS ANGELES, Nov 10 (Reuters) – Solar panels that use thin-film technology in place of traditional silicon-based materials will more than double their share of the solar panel market by 2013, according to a report issued on Tuesday by industry research firm iSuppli.

Thin-film panels, such as those made by First Solar Inc (FSLR), the largest U.S. solar power company, are cheaper to make per watt of electricity than are standard panels.

The average thin-film solar panel price is expected to decline nearly 18 percent in 2010 to $1.40 per watt, iSuppli said. Average prices for silicon-based panels are expected to drop 20 percent to $2.00 per watt in 2010.

Panels than employ thin-film technology are expected to claim 31 percent of the global solar panel market by 2013, up from 14 percent in 2008.

“The market viability of thin film has been solidly established by First Solar Inc as it rockets to become the world’s top solar panel maker this year, with more than a gigawatt of production,” said Greg Sheppard, chief research officer for iSuppli in a statement.

Most solar panels, like those made by Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd (STP) and California-based SunPower Corp (SPWRA, SPWRB), rely on polysilicon as a key raw material, while thin-film panel makers use a variety of different materials to turn sunlight into electricity.

Sheppard added that First Solar has driven its cost of production to less than 90 cents per watt, keeping its costs at about half the level of its competitors that use silicon-based technology.

Thin-film panels’ cost advantage has helped attract Japan’s Sharp Corp to expand into the thin film market. Solar equipment suppliers, such as Applied Materials Inc (AMAT) and Swiss technology group Oerlikon’s solar arm, are ramping up in thin-film space as well.

(Reporting by Laura Isensee; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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