Photovoltaics: Markets and Technologies

Published - Sep 2002| Analyst - Robert Moran| Code - EGY014D
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Report Highlights

  • Total worldwide shipments of photovoltaic (PV) modules reached 393.8 megawatts (MW) in 2001 and are projected to grow at an average annual rate (AAGR) of 21% to 1,021.5 MW by 2006.
  • Their value was estimated at $2,067.5 million in 2001. That amount is expected to increase at a lower AAGR of 12.5% to $3,728.5 million by 2006, as costs are expected to decrease.
  • Polycrystalline silicon is the highest volume PV technology, and shipments are projected to grow at a 20.6% AAGR to reach 450.8 MW by 2006.
  • Single crystal silicon shipments were 161.5 MW in 2001 and are projected to rise at an AAGR of 19.8% to 398.4 MW by 2006.
  • The smaller market for silicon film deposited on more flexible substrates is expected to grow at an AAGR of 21.2% to 19.5 MW by 2006.
  • Thin films will finally exhibit significant growth during the period, rising at an AAGR of 26.3% to 152.8 MW by 2006.



BCC's goal in conducting this study was to determine the current worldwide status of the market for photovoltaics, and to assess their growth potential over a five-year period from 2001 to 2006. BCC last studied this industry in 1998, and we were particularly interested in the impact on the market brought about through improvements in technology and the impact of renewable energy on environmental issues.

Our key objective was to present a comprehensive analysis of the current solar energy market for photovoltaics (PV) and project its future direction.


The first commercial application of PV occurred in the 1950s with the advent of the Space Program. Concerted efforts to develop this solar energy technology began during the oil embargoes of the 1970s. When oil prices stabilized, however, major incentives to use solar systems such as investment and tax credits abated and government funding for research and development (R&D) was reduced. Despite these changes, development efforts in PV technology continued. In the 1900s, R&D funding, cost-sharing programs and industry activity increased again. Despite some anticipated reductions in current government funding, PV again offers promise for the future.

BCC examined the industry in the 1998 report E-038N Photovoltaics Markets and Technologies. Since this industry is growing and operating in a deregulated environment, we were interested in looking at it again, analyzing the key competitive factors and projecting its growth potential.


In this study of photovoltaic solar energy, we present current and emerging technologies (using specific examples and a patent study), the industry structure, the competitive environment, key applications, current and future markets, growth factors, 2001 PV module shipments and 2006 module shipment projections. This study will be of interest to those who make semiconductors, thin films, electrical connectors, and materials (such as silicon, steel, polymers and ceramics). It will also interest utility companies and construction firms, along with companies involved in the Space Program and those involved in large-scale manufacturing.

An Appendix on Concentrating Solar Power is also included, and it updates the status of that technology, its economic situation, and current market status.


The scope of this study encompasses the key PV technologies: single crystal silicon, polycrystalline silicon, silicon film, amorphous silicon, cadmium telluride, copper indium diselenide, and compound semiconductor materials (such as gallium arsenide). BCC analyzes each technology, assesses its current market status, examines its future market impact, and presents five-year growth projections. Various technological issues, such as new kinds of materials, are discussed. In addition, a thorough economic analysis of each technology and its impact on future growth is presented.

BCC analyzes the PV industry on a worldwide basis, including manufacturing capability and consumption by various regional markets. We examine government funding and support, industry involvement, standards, and solar energy's environmental impact. We also discuss the potential for grid-connected utility and stand-alone electric generating capability of PV. Projections of shipments by technology and applications are presented. Also, a discussion of thin films and their future is included in the market analysis.


BCC presents an analysis, by each PV technology, of the number of modules, measured in megawatts, shipped in 2001. Our estimated value is what manufacturers have paid in undepreciated dollars. Then, based on our surveys, we analyze the potential market for each technology and forecast shipments for 2006. We also analyze the cost involved in manufacturing the modules and present an estimated value of shipments over the forecast period.


BCC surveyed approximately 100 companies to obtain data for this study. Included were manufacturers of PV cells and modules, arrays and supporting equipment, as well as manufacturers of structural equipment and PV-related materials. We also spoke to companies specializing in the deposition of thin films. In addition, we compiled data from current financial and trade information and government sources.

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