Thin film solar is becoming an increasingly important segment of the solar industry. Thin-film solar cells consist of layers of active materials about 10 µm thick compared with 200- to 300-µm layers for crystalline-silicon cells. Some sixty companies have announced to start thin film production by 2010, and EuPD Research estimates that by then, the production output will amount to 3.5 GW. According to the EIA, in 2006 thin film represented a 30% share of the of the 337,268 Wp of photovoltaic cells shipped by the U.S. solar industry, as compared to 12% in 2004. in 2007 total solar (including solar thermal) represented less than 1% of the total of all renewable energy [including biomass (53%), hydroelectric (36%), geothermal (5%) and wind (5%)] which in turn represented just 7% of total energy consumption in the U.S. Cadmium telluride PV (CdTe PV) is the only thin film photovoltaic technology to surpass crystalline silicon PV in the marketplace, in terms of lower system price, for a significant portion of the PV market.
First Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq: FSLR), producer of Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) PV modules, is the largest manufacturer of thin film solar modules, expanding manufacturing capacity to an expected 735 MW in 2008; and with additional plants under construction, First Solar will bring total expected capacity to more than 1 GW by the end of 2009.
At the end of 2007, over 300 MW of First Solar PV modules had been installed worldwide and First Solar expects to ship 420 to 460 MW of PV modules in 2008.