Requirements & Development Needs
Photovoltaic technology generally is categorized into three generations. First-generation technology, wafer-based silicon modules, dominates the PV market (~85% share in 2010) on account of its high efficiency. Second-generation technology, thin-film-based modules, is the fastest growing product category due to its lower cost per Wp. Some 300 or more companies produce solar cells and modules using first- and second-generation technologies.
Third-generation photovoltaic technologies aim to significantly reduce the cost of photovoltaic energy with two key strategies:
- ultra high efficiency through enhanced photon capture
- ultra low cost using abundant materials
Organic photovoltaic is a potentially low-cost technology utilizing an abundant and environmentally benign material set.
Development advances in new materials have begun to address lower cell efficiencies, shorter lifetimes and other near-term product-level hurdles. Key features such as transparency and flexibility are expected to open up new markets for embedded energy generation in mobile devices, transport and architecture.