WAFER PRODUCTION PREDICTED TO EXCEED 30 GW IN 2013
After falling 15% in 2012, solar photovoltaic wafer production is forecast to grow 19% in 2013, passing 30 GW and recovering to the 2011 level, according to the latest NPD Solarbuzz market report “Polysilicon and Wafer Supply Chain Quarterly”.
Industry utilization is expected to remain below 60%, and while prices have stopped falling, no significant increases are expected, so profitability for wafer makers will remain challenging. Multicrystalline silicon (multi c-Si) technology is forecast to continue its dominance of the wafer market in the short to mid-term. However, the higher efficiency solar cells that can be produced using monocrystalline silicon (mono c-Si) wafers continue to be in demand for applications where space is restricted. The higher efficiencies enable pricing at a premium over standard multi c-Si modules. In particular, rapid growth in the Japanese market is creating demand for premium efficiency modules that use mono c-Si wafers. In the long term, n-type mono c-Si wafers and enhanced mono performance supported by advanced cell designs and manufacturing have the potential to lower total costs per watt and enable faster growth of the mono c-Si wafer market.