Big Chinese state owned companies are gobbling up financially strained Western solar firms as a massive overcapacity in global solar panel supply (caused by their brethren) drives them to bankruptcy. Note thin film startups like Ascent Solar, Heliovolt have already seen Asian companies taking a controlling equity stake. Now Chinese state owned companies which do [...]

Solar Thin Film Technology has been growing rapidly despite falling costs of the mainstream Photovoltaic Crystalline Silicon Technology.While the current solar supply glut has resulted in some of the thin film solar film companies going out of business,big thin film suppliers continue with their growth plan.Solar Thin Film Technology is supposed to be the 2nd Generation successor to the mainstream Crystalline Silicon (c-Si) Technology which accounts for around 85% of world production.While a number of Weaker Hands in Thin Film have downed shutters,Thin Film Producers continue to grow and expand.The massive growth potential of Solar Energy makes it possible for both of these PV technologies to flourish.Thin Film Technology unlike c-Si has a number of variants.Amorphous Silicon (a-Si),Copper Indium Gallium Sulphide (CIGs) and Cadmium Tellurium (Cd-Te) are the 3 main types of Thin Film Technology.There are a number of manufacturers of all of these 3 types of Technology.CIGs Technology is said to have the most potential in improving efficiency and competing with c-Si,however Cd-Te is currently the top dog as the world’s biggest solar producer First Solar currently uses this technology.a-Si Technology is not that hot with low efficiencies however Oerlikon and Sharp are pushing ahead with developing this technology.

Solar Panel Manufacturers in USA are facing a torrid time from the falling prices of Chinese solar panels.This has caused the bankruptcies of some big solar panel companies in recent times like Solyndra,Spectrawatt and Evergreen Solar.Only those solar panel companies with the lowest cost and good quality will manage to survive the price war in solar panels that is currently on.Most companies are running losses as the prices of solar panels have decreased by 40% in 6 months.This would cause any industry to see massive bankruptcies and this is the case with the solar panel industry as well.Note Solar Industry is a new one with rapid technology and cost changes which makes startups with bad business models go bust.This is a natural effect of capitalism and nothing to be afraid of .However you have to be careful of which solar panel manufacturer to buy from as your 25 year solar panel warranty will become useless if the solar panel manufacturer from which you brought the solar panel goes out of business.On the Bright Side the sharply declining costs of solar has made it the biggest advantage of using solar power.

Solar Thin Film Technology has been growing rapidly despite falling costs of the mainstream Photovoltaic Crystalline Silicon Technology.While a number of Weaker Hands in Thin Film have downed shutters,Thin Film Producers continue to grow and expand.The massive growth potential of Solar Energy makes it possible for both of these PV technologies to flourish.Thin Film Technology unlike c-Si has a number of variants.Amorphous Silicon (a-Si),Copper Indium Gallium Sulphide (CIGs) and Cadmium Tellurium (Cd-Te) are the 3 main types of Thin Film Technology.There are a number of manufacturers of all of these 3 types of Technology.CIGs Technology is said to have the most potential in improving efficiency and competing with c-Si,however Cd-Te is currently the top dog as the world’s biggest solar producer First Solar currently uses this technology.a-Si Technology is not that hot with low efficiencies however Oerlikon and Sharp are pushing ahead with developing this technology.Here is a list of the world’s top Thin Film Companies.

Solar Frontier is a subsidiary of Showa Shell Sekiyu and is listed on the Japanese Stock Exchange.The Company has big plans for the Solar Energy Market planning to increase its capacity by more than 10 times in 2011 to around 1 Gw in total.All its 3 plants are located in Miyazaki in Japan and uses previous plasma plant of Hitachi.Solar Frontier claims 11.5% efficiency for its CIS modules which are expected to go upto 14% by 2014.The Company is spending around $1 Billion in Capex for building the 1 GW capacity implying roughly $1 capex/watt which is not exactly cheap though not very expensive either.Note Thin Film Competition is hotting up with Saint Gobain-Hyundai,TSMC,Miasole,Oerlikon Solar,Sharp,Nanosolar all making plans for huge capacity expansion in the next couple of years.Solar Frontier has signed some small deals for supplying 1-3 MW in Thailand,Japan and Australia Recently.However the cost structure of the company is not known till now just like Sharp.While Solar Frontier looks good on the capacity and partnerships front,it has still to prove itself on costs to really push the Chinese Solar Companies which are dominating the Solar Scene right now with their low cost polysilicon panel production.Note 60% of the Solar Panel Production in Q210 was estimated to be done by Chinese based manufacturers.

Saint Gobain like Semiconductor Giant TSMC is betting on Copper Indium Gallium Selenium (CIGs) Technology rather than the mainstream crystalline silicon technology.CIGs is getting the most significant investments these days compared to other thin film technology.Yesterday Ascent Solar (ASTI) got an IEC certification for its flexible modules which would enable it to target the mainstream rooftop market from niche applications earlier.Miasole has improved the efficiency and costs of it CIGs greatly while Nanosolar can’t be counted out because of its strong backers.Solyndra however remains mostly in the shadows despite around $1 billion in private investment.Stion is another strong contender partnering with TSMC and also thinking of opening a plant in Taiwan on its own as well.Saint Gobain is already a big player in the solar market as it suppliers glass to a lot of solar companies for their modules.Getting into panel manufacturing will further allow it to get a foothold of this new potentially giant industry.Du Pont,Dow Chemicals,Corning all have considerable presence in the solar equipment market as well.