The United States of America, which depends heavily on foreign imported oil to satisfy it's energy demands, may have found an alternative in the form of solar power: a report released today has suggested that the booming photovoltaic (PV) cell industry could supply up to 20% of America's energy needs. Of particular interest is the thin film photovoltaics (TFPV) market, which accounts for five per cent of production today, but could make up 35 per cent of the market by 2015, according to analysts NanoMarkets.
"Because worldwide energy prices are rising fast and PV prices are falling fast, PV will carve off a big slice of the energy market and could eventually account for as much as 20 per cent of the US market's energy needs," said Robert Nolan, analyst at NanoMarkets. "Because TFPV costs less than conventional PV, TFPV is most likely to take off first. PV also offers predictable pricing, something that fossil fuels cannot do."
Analysts predict the total market for TFPV will be worth $7.2 billion by 2015, up from $1 billion today. One primary advantage of TFPV is easier production as compared to standard PV cells; TFPV cells can be printed out of adapted printers rather than built like computer chips. Manufacturers are already building large power plants to use the technology, with First Solar, Fuji Electric, Nanosolar, Sanyo, Uni-Solar and G24i all building plants with more than 100MW in capacity. Additional advantages inclue TFPV's ability to be printed in flexible strips, making it possible to attach to most devices and structures, and improved efficiency in lower light conditions.
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