The falling manufacturing costs of ultra-thin solar cells are propelling their sales across the world. The purchase cost of the PV cells determines the cost at which solar power is sold to end users. Although the levelized cost of energy (LCoE) of PV panels is lower than that of other renewable energy sources, it is significantly higher than that of fossil fuels. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the LCoE for coal and PVs was $55.7 per Megawatt-hour (MWh) and $66 per MWh, respectively, in 2020 and these are predicted to be equal by 2024 and reach $57.3 per MWh for coal and $40.0 per MWh for PVS by 2024.
This decline in costs will be caused due to extensive research and development (R&D) activities, which are aimed at improving the efficiency and reducing the purchase cost of ultra-thin solar cells. Besides, the soaring use of ultra-thin solar cells in automotive, spacecraft, and aerospace industries is also creating lucrative growth opportunities for the players operating in the ultra-thin solar cells market. As compared to traditional, silicon-based PV cells, ultra-thin solar cells are considered better alternatives, owing to their cost-effectiveness and eco-friendliness.
Additionally, they can produce greater power output relative to their weight, which makes them ideal for use in automobile batteries and various auxiliary energy storage devices, aircraft and spaceship power plants, wearable electronics, and actuators and sensors in soft robotics. Likewise, ultra-thin solar cells have been integrated in many buildings with a low load bearing capacity in order to mitigate the weight on rooftops. Because of these factors, the sales of ultra-thin solar cells are soaring, which is, in turn, expected to propel the ultra-thin solar cells market at a CAGR of 56.9% from 2020 to 2030.
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Furthermore, the market reached a revenue of $30.0 million in 2019. Cadmium telluride (CdTe), copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS), and gallium arsenide (GaAs) are the major technologies used in ultra-thin solar cells. Out of these, the demand for the CdTe technology was found to be the highest in the past, as this was the only technology that could compete with the conventionally used crystalline silicon (c-Si)-based solar cells, in terms of purchase price ad power output. Moreover, the other ultra-thin solar cell technologies are still in the development stage and thus, they are used on a much small scale, majorly in test projects and laboratories.
Geographically, the demand for ultra-thin solar cells will surge sharply in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region in the forthcoming years, according to the market research company, P&S Intelligence. This will be because of the soaring number of R&D projects being launched by the organizations developing these cells in the region. These projects are aimed at mitigating the purchase price and increasing the power production capacity of PV cells. Some of these projects have yielded cells that are being increasingly used in the automotive industry for powering electric vehicles.
Therefore, it can be said without any hesitation that the demand for ultra-thin solar cells will surge in the coming years, mainly because of their declining manufacturing costs and surging need for renewable energy sources across the world.