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April 24, 2014  |  Login
Next Generation Photovoltaics: Thin Film, Fat Margins
By John Rubino
"The smartest investors are going short on silicon and long on thin film, especially CIGS," Nanosolar CEO Martin Roscheisen was reported to have said in late 2007. To this, T.J. Rodgers, CEO of Cypress Semiconductor, a major stockholder in the silicon panel maker SunPower, was reported to respond, "Silicon has a reliability record which is unmatched by any other material.They could rename the company NanoDollar, because that's all they are going to be left with after we get done kicking their butt."

Which form of PV will win? They'll all find a niche, says Travis Bradford, venture capitalist and author of Solar Revolution, the best primer on this industry. "I see the market breaking in two directions: Where cost is crucial, thin film will do well, and where space is crucial crystalline PV panels will continue do very well." The various thin-film materials, meanwhile, "all hit the price points necessary to compete with crystalline silicon. Cadmium Telluride has the first-mover advantage, CIGS has the theoretical best price and cost, and amorphous silicon has unlimited feedstock."

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