24 January 2012 The market for solar installations based on copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) thin-film panels will nearly double in size to $2.35bn in 2015, as manufacturers signaled a breakout year in 2011 by taking advantage of falling production costs, improving module conversion efficiencies and increasing adoption in commercial rooftops, according to the report ‘Sorting through the Maze of CIGS Technologies: Who Will Cash in on the Breakout Year?’ from Lux Research. The technology is emerging into an early-growth phase and will benefit from a surge in demand to nearly 2.3GW in 2015, nearly double the current 1.2GW level, reckons Lux. However, it will still face numerous challenges, including a sharp fall in venture capital. In the emerging environment, only a few manufacturers (such as, Solar Frontier, Avancis and Solibro) will succeed, mainly through strategic partnerships and investments that are critical to ramp capacities and improve production processes. “Manufacturers have begun ramping meaningful capacities and there have been tremendous improvements in module efficiency,” says Pallavi Madakasira, Lux Research analyst and lead author of the report.|
“Now, strategic partnerships between start-ups and industrial conglomerates are likely to determine this technology’s overall viability and competitiveness,” he adds. Lux researchers positioned CIGS developers using the Lux Innovation Grid, based on their Technical Value and Business Execution. Companies that are strong on both axes reach the ‘Dominant’ quadrant. Lux also assessed each firm’s maturity, providing an overall ‘Lux Take’. Among their conclusions: Solar Frontier is a clear winner, with a solid position in the ‘Dominant’ quadrant, and was the only firm to earn a ‘Strong Positive’ take. With inroads into new and emerging markets such as India, where it is selling more than 30MW of panels, Solar Frontier excels in overall execution.
Global Solar, Avancis and Solibro are likely to consolidate, with the three firms likely to emerge as bankable players. Global Solar has demonstrated slow but steady progress and is currently selling its PowerFLEX technology (a shingle product) to Dow. Still, to succeed it needs to adopt a less conservative approach. Avancis has a joint venture with Hyundai Heavy Industries for CIGS module production in Asia. However, Solibro will need to quickly and independently strengthen its financial position to succeed, reckons Lux.
Stion, Miasole and Nuvosun are all ‘Dominant’, with the potential to emerge as early champions in CIGS PV technology. However, their success will depend on capacity utilization and ramp-up, customer relationships, strategic partnerships and consistent execution in terms of their module costs, yield and module efficiency. ISET, Flisom and AQT are all ‘High Potential’ companies - with strong technical value but weaker business execution scores - and have assets that make them prized acquisition targets. The report is part of the Lux Research Solar Components Intelligence service..
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