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Intersolar: Tougher times for solar thin-film

EuPD Research’s white paper International PV Thin Film Market Dynamics – From Introduction to Growth Stage, finds that the international solar thin-film market share increased from 8% in 2008 to 20% in 2009.

Gains in market share resulted in particular from the reduced prices of the materials used in solar thin-film production.

According to EuPD Research, however, the advantages enjoyed by this segment have since diminished. The elimination of the silicon bottleneck, the immense decline in prices for conventional solar photovoltaic (PV) technologies as well as the economic and financial crisis has had a dramatic impact on the solar thin-film segment.

The financing of manufacturing facilities will become particularly difficult for market participants, the renewable energy market researcher predicts. The restrictive credit policy of investors means that they now tend to invest in companies with tried and tested technologies. As only a minority of solar thin-film companies have taken the step to mass production, few fall under the aforementioned category.

Competitiveness alone not enough

The EuPD white paper show that in order to survive in a market that is consolidating and to maintain control over your market share, concentrating alone on the competitiveness of the product will no longer suffice. An increasing diversification of, for example, individual market niches or the development of innovative sales strategies will be of utmost importance. EuPD Research has identified 6 clusters in the solar thin-film segment.

These are, for example, reputable solar thin-film manufacturers that have been doing business in this segment for a longer period of time and have a significant market share. In addition, there is a cluster of companies with a distinctive technological background coupled with well established research and developments departments.

Furthermore, companies which do not have a solar PV background but a well known global brand as well as the corresponding sales and marketing structures combined with experience in mass production make up a further cluster. The majority of these companies generally come from other sectors or solar PV related sectors such as the LCD or flat screen segment, EuPD Research says.

Market players in the solar thin-film PV sector now have to address the challenge of finding a strategy which will ensure their survival in this turbulent market. In order to increase market share companies will have to be able to compete on all elements of the marketing mix – Product, Price, Place and Promotion.

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Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Policy, investment and markets  •  Solar electricity