Hanergy Sees Thin-Film Solar Gaining Market Share

Hanergy Holding Group Ltd., a Chinese thin-film solar panel maker, expects the technology it has backed to take a greater share of the market that’s dominated by silicon-based cells as the biggest manufacturers stumble.

“A new age represented by thin-film technology will come,” as silicon-based panel producers led by Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. and LDK Solar Co. Ltd. suffered losses, Hanergy’s Chairman Li Hejun said in an interview. “The market demands cheaper equipment that features flexibility and with more applications.”

Hanergy acquired two overseas thin-film companies including California’s MiaSole Inc. in the past year to advance its technology and compete with First Solar Inc. (FSLR), the biggest maker of thin-film panels by shipments. Other rivals include Japan’s Solar Frontier and Sharp Corp. (6753)

The average silicon solar panel price has slumped 28 percent in the past year, while that of thin-film products were down 19 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The thin-film equipment “may obtain a growing share in the future photovoltaic market, if the production cost can be reduced to below 60 cents a watt,” Wang Xiaoting, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance in Beijing, said by e-mail. “The possibility does not imply a replacement of crystalline silicon products.”

Silicon-based solar panels “have well proved long-term operation reliability, and more importantly, there is still great potential for efficiency improvement,” Wang said.

Hanergy plans to develop more than 2 gigawatts of solar power plants worldwide this year with its own panels, Li said. China will account for as much as 40 percent of its shipments in 2013, he said.

“Our costs are around 50 cents a watt, and we aim to cut it by 10 percent this year,” Li said. “The international market is very good for thin-film panels as they don’t face anti-dumping and anti-subsidy probes in Europe and import duties in the U.S.”

Copyright 2013 Bloomberg

Lead image: Solar panels via Shutterstock

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