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18 March 2014

Thin-film material market to reach $10.25bn by 2018

The thin-film material market is expected to increease at a significant compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to $10.25bn by 2018, according to the report ‘Thin Film Material Market, By Type (CdTe, CIGS, a-Si, Others), End-User Industry [Photovoltaic Solar Cells, MEMS, Semiconductors and Electrical (Circuit Boards), Optical Coating, Others], and Deposition Processes – Global Trends & Forecast to 2018’ from the firm MarketsandMarkets.

Covering materials including amorphous silicon (a-Si), cadmium telluride (CdTe), and copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS), the advantages offered by thin-film material in industrial as well as domestic operations - coupled with the rising demand for efficiency and miniaturization - will continue to drive the thin-film material market, says the report. Rising demand from end-user industries will be responsible for rapid growth of the thin-film material market in the future, it adds.

Globally, thin-film material manufacturing companies are dependent on government funding and subsidies. During the global economic crisis, the USA and European countries were affected the most. Many countries such as the USA and Germany stopped the funding subsidies provided to thin-film material manufacturing companies, resulting in their bankruptcy, closure or acquisition by Chinese counterparts. It also affected the thin-film material market adversely, causing revenues to decline in 2013. However, the recovering global economy - combined with the stringent government regulation and funding from venture capitalists - is estimated to be providing the market with a necessary boost.

The thin-film material market is growing steadily in Europe, but will continue to grow rapidly in the Asia-Pacific, driven by countries such as China and Japan. The North American market for thin-film material will also continue to grow at a significant rate. The African and Latin American markets have still not realized their full potential.

The thin-film material market is highly competitive and most companies do not offer all types of material, notes the report. First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, USA is a major player that has dominated the CdTe market, accounting for nearly 90% of that market in 2012. China’s Hanergy dominates the CIS/CIGS market, occupying about a third of the market by acquiring bankrupt firms in 2012. Ascent Solar in the USA and Kaneka Solar Energy and Solar Frontier in Japan are the other major companies offering CIS/CIGS technology. Amorphous silicon (a-Si) technology is used mainly by Asian firms such as Anwell Solar (Hong Kong), Suntech Power Co Ltd (China), and Moser Baer (India).

Thin-film materials are appropriate for high-density and high-frequency applications, notes the report. Applications include several industries such as photovoltaic solar cells, micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS), semiconductor, electrical and optical coating. One of the key factors contributing to market growth is the increasing use of solar energy. The market has also witnessed growth due to various governments investing increasingly in the solar industry globally. However, the shortage of raw material used for the production of thin films could pose a challenge for the growth of this market, cautions the report.

Tags: Thin-film silicon CdTe CIGS

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