The burgeoning world population, industrialization and changing lifestyles have strained natural energy reserves all over the world. Dwindling resources and escalating oil prices have created a pressing need to switch to alternate energy sources that are cleaner, more easily replenished and economical. Clean, alternate energy could also benefit the urban areas by lowering the pollution levels.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (smt.frost.com), Solar Cell Manufacturing Equipment Market, finds that the market earned revenues of $3.4 billion in 2010 and estimates this to reach $27.5 billion by 2017.
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"Increasing awareness about renewable energy has propelled the growth of renewable energy sources in general and solar technologies in particular," notes Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Nupur Sinha. "The Fukushima nuclear plant disaster has made a robust case for the adoption of solar technology."
Governments have recognized the potential of solar power and have been encouraging its generation by offering various tax incentives and breaks. Policies, including the renewable portfolio standard (RPS), have mandated that every electricity retailer should generate a fraction of power from renewable energy sources, including the sun.
Such initiatives are expected to bolster the demand for solar cells, which, in turn, will lead to the installation of solar cell manufacturing equipment. There is growing confidence that electricity can be inexpensively produced from solar energy, so that it matches the prices of grid energy within the next few years. The increased foreign direct investments (FDI) in clean energy, which are pouring into countries such as China, Brazil and India, are expected to drive market growth.
Europe is flourishing as the hub of solar cell manufacturing equipment. However, the market could witness a strategic shift toward emerging nations, due to their favorable government policies and inexpensive labor. The expenditure involved in the production of solar cells is high and has varied from $2.73/watt-peak (Wp) in late 2005 to $1.50/Wp in 2010, due to fluctuating silicon prices.
"The solar cell industry is working tirelessly to lower the cost per area for the solar cells, while achieving greater wattage per area per solar cell, resulting in greater efficiency," observes Sinha. "With new technological innovations, it remains to be seen whether photo-voltaic (PV) energy costs become comparable with that of existing energy sources."
As the solar cell market grows, each tool in the manufacturing line must be reliable and produce a consistently high yield. To make the most of the rise in the demand for solar cells and the reducing price of silicon, solar cell manufacturers are likely to invest more in energy-efficient, thin-film technology. As the benefits of solar technology become apparent, the demand for solar cell manufacturing equipment is expected to increase over the next three to seven years.
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Solar Cell Manufacturing Equipment Market / N8DA