European Prospective for Thin Film PV in 2003

RE Outlook 2003 – Despite the belief that higher photovoltaic (PV) cell efficiency brings advantages to Renewable Energy producers, a new trend in evaluating performance is making its way to consumers. It is the “investment against annually produced kWh” that is being discussed more and more by potential PV customers.

RE Outlook 2003 – January 20, 2003 – Despite the belief that higher photovoltaic (PV) cell efficiency brings advantages to Renewable Energy producers, a new trend in evaluating performance is making its way to consumers. It is the “investment against annually produced kWh” that is being discussed more and more by potential PV customers. Up to now, typical sales talks centered around a PV module’s dimension, surface, cell efficiency (we call it now space efficiency – a value that is basically irrelevant for a financial amortization model) and the brand’s guarantee. Once a customer invests in PV, the real thing they need to know is how many kW/h will be delivered during the system’s lifetime. For potential PV operators the correct layout of the PV generator and the right choice of PV modules and inverters is becoming more and more important. In the near future, quality will not only be measured by the brand or by nice presentations, but by one single value – how much is a system producing and what do you have to pay for it. This new trend is showing that consumers are more educated about the technical characteristics of the different technologies available on the market. As energy prices are increasing constantly, we are approaching the point where thin film-based production units are performing better than mono and polycrystalline ones and financially break even in a shorter period of time. This is an excellent opening to a potential new market for private industries that have an advanced vision regarding the deployment of PV and its long-term advantages. Some European countries are thinking about, or have already introduced, some type of green certificates or restrictions for companies that are not energy efficient and clean or are heavy polluters. It seems that a trend to oblige the industry to invest instead of providing just economic advantages is spreading out in the political environment. The fact that government contributes financially on a “one shot” basis is being abandoned to leave space for reimbursement based on kWh fed into the grid. This will be a disadvantage to system integrators and sellers that use low quality materials for their products. This may, in our opinion, positively contribute to a further consolidation of high-quality thin film PV systems – operating on higher voltages, using better inverters and professional system layouts. The year 2003 will certainly be one of high growth, especially for thin film PV technologies. About the Author: Frederick Tschernutter is chief executive officer of Sunteg Energy AG. He can be reached at Fred@sunteg.com
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