The solar panel market is currently a $40 billion market, projected to surpass $150 billion by 2024. The market is dominated by two technologies – crystalline silicon, which holds a 92% market share, and polycrystalline thin film, which holds an 8% market share. Typical commodity level (multi-) crystalline silicon solar panels achieve efficiency between 15% and 17%. Although the most efficient premium (mono-) crystalline silicon panels are capable of about 21% – 22% efficiency, the additional production costs for producing these more complicated panels result in significantly higher prices.
SunPower, an American company, produces the world’s highest efficiency premium crystalline silicon panel at 21.5%. Silicon technology is very well developed and near the top of its practical peak panel efficiency 22% – 23%; additional panel efficiency improvements come at an uncompetitive price.
Polycrystalline thin film solar panels achieve efficiency between about 15% and 17% (like commodity silicon), with roadmaps to 18% – 20% efficiency before 2020. First Solar, also an American company, produces the world’s highest efficiency thin film panel at 16.5%. Only two competitors dominate the thin film market, each with about a 40% thin film market share: First Solar with its CdTe (cadmium telluride) technology and Solar Frontier, a Japanese company, with its CIS (copper indium selenium) technology.
Utilizing commodity level silicon technology, combined with Uriel Solar’s patented CdTe-based alloy technologies, low cost tandem (two-junction) solar cells can be produced whose theoretical efficiency is 40%.
With economies of scale, tandem production costs will be comparable to low cost thin film or commodity silicon panels but with efficiency 40% above premium silicon panels.