Shared knowledge, equipment and material exchange continue to intertwine Solar PV with Semi. For that reason, we keep tabs on the solar market and its possible implications for Semi.
Currently, there is considerable movement in thin-film and silicon technologies, both pushing the capabilities of solar energy harvesting forward and increasing adoption rates. Thin-film is gaining in market share, up to 22% in 2009, with crystalline silicon (c-Si) still the dominant technology. The major semiconductor industry organization, SEMI, has a PV group and one European subgroup has banded together to jointly establish roadmaps for the c-Si technology, as reported by EETimes, earlier this quarter. This roadmap could prove critical as forecasts for c-Si in 2011 remain cloudy, as reported here by ElectroIQ for Photovoltaics World. In response to both market demand and the PV market challenges, equipment manufacturers looking to lower costs and new materials are on the horizon for more mass-production capabilities at lowered costs (see this related post yesterday). These technology and material breakthroughs will be important to move solar PV over the next barrier. With the continued addition of more Semi giants like TSMC, the necessary evolution and maturation processes ought to be more certain.
Other renewable and energy efficient technologies are providing less volatile and equally critical diversification options for Semi companies. LED lighting, smart meter components (esp. Freescale's microcontrollers), and power management for improved energy efficiency standards are vibrant drivers in the industry. There are opportunities for Semi in Solar, renewables, and energy efficiency – the question remains finding the best roadmap and match for your core capabilities.