Power & Energy Solutions

The premier renewable energy publication

Solar comes of age

As photovoltaics emerge as the leading generation source of the future, with installations topping wind for the first time in 2016, the underlying production machine has reached maturity. While relatively recently, in the early 2010’s, uncertainty remained around the prospects of competing photovoltaic technologies. Thin-film companies championed CIGS and CdTe as the materials of choice to sweep in an age of low-cost solar.

Hitting the supply chain from two ends

A brief stint of hype-driven venture capital poured into start-ups developing a range of organic photovoltaics, which they claimed would lead to multitudes of surfaces covered in photovoltaic material, for pennies. Others still envisioned a proliferation led by the combining optical systems with expensive, high efficiency, multi-junction cells in high concentration photovoltaic concepts. Despite strong commitments to research and development in these areas, the crash in polysilicon prices quashed these prospects and radically shifted the potential for disruption.

As a result, only a handful of companies still pursue high concentration photovoltaics, with Canadian-based Morgan Solar only now installing its first large-scale project in Ontario, after 10 years of operation. Meanwhile, the last few organic photovoltaic developers have pivoted away from lofty dreams of omnipresent installations as 3GSolar and G24 Innovations target integration with consumer electronics and wireless electronic networks.

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