Less than a month after Green Energy Technologies signed a deal for a thin-film solar module production line from Applied Materials, the company says it has already received requests for four times its expected capacity next year, Bloomberg reports. The solar silicon-wafer maker, a subsidiary of Taiwanese Tatung, plans to leverage the technology of LCD-maker (and fellow Tatung affiliate) Chunghwa Picture Tubes to begin manufacturing its amorphous silicon thin-film product in December. Production capacity is scheduled to reach 30 megawatts by February of 2009 and 50 megawatts by the end of 2009.
While the company also announced it had signed an eight-year, $947 million contract with undisclosed partners in Australia and Asia, the company’s shift from traditional silicon PV to thin-film is motivated by the promise of higher gross profit margins. While the price per watt of a traditional crystalline silicon solar module is about $3.80, Green Energy estimates it can make thin-film solar for around $2.80 a watt.
This is still significantly higher than the $1 a watt Holy Grail of grid parity. But with increasingly large players moving to get a slice of the thin-film pie, will there be space for small, venture-funded startups like Nanosolar in the market? Intel just threw its hat into the ring by spinning off SpectraWatt with $50 million in venture funding, as well as investing $37.5 million in German thin-film player Sulfurcell. But the pie is big and expected to get bigger. It’s estimated that thin-film PV could grab 28 percent of the solar market by 2012, representing some $19.7 billion in sales in that time frame.