Solar energy can be collected in various ways, most commonly by directly converting the irradiation into electricity through photovoltaic cells, or by using thermodynamic-driven heaters and turbines.
A lot of uncertainty still surrounds solar energy. Will photovoltaic technology take the lead, or solar thermal? The efficiency and cost of each technology will play a critical role in answering that question, but so too will the application that gains groundswell.
Recent dynamics in the photovoltaic industry should jolt companies into reconsidering their material and equipment supply strategies. Production efficiencies were not always the focus during the recent growth phase. Those days are over, and great potential exists to reduce costs. As the market becomes more commoditized, access to end buyers is critical, to improve the power position in the photovoltaic value chain, and to implement differentiation and service strategies. The main challenge on the market side is to set up appropriate sales channels.
Competitiveness in the photovoltaic industry is largely determined by scale economics, especially at the upstream end of the value chain. Hence, companies need to secure sufficient capital to keep pace with the required investments.