Into the Niche: Putting a Magnifying Glass on PV’s Tiniest Markets

May 16, 2014 | State of the Market Report

As crystalline silicon (x‐Si) module prices have fallen precipitously over the past few years, thin‐film manufacturers have looked to applications that can leverage thin films’ flexibility, light weight, and aesthetic attributes in exchange for premium prices. These applications – including building‐ integrated photovoltaics (BIPV), electronics, transportation‐integrated photovoltaics (TIPV), and military – alleviate price pressure for thin‐film manufacturers, but suppliers and integrators have found it difficult to drive market adoption. Using a logistics curve analysis, we forecasted markets for these niche applications through 2024 to determine the viability of driving a significant business. We found that all together, these markets will reach 1.2 GW of new products sold in 2024 – enough to drive a profitable business, but only for a few dominant suppliers and integrators that will use these markets as a profitable side business to larger core competencies.

Coverage Areas

  • Next Generation Power
  • Owning the Energy Transition

Table of Contents

  • Title page
  • Abstract
  • Landscape
  • Landscape conclusions
  • Analysis
  • Outlook
  • Appendix I: Over 30 PV suppliers still target niche markets, dominated by thin-film suppliers
  • Appendix II: Over 75 integrators create niche products powered by solar PV cells
  • Appendix III: Niches defined – Suppliers need a broad product portfolio to target niche applications
  • Appendix IV: X-Si cells are the lowest cost with strong efficiency, but lack flexibility; CIGS is the most competitive flexible technology

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