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Perovskite and DSC: The Market Revolution Begins with BIPV


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Generally speaking, NanoMarkets sees DSC-enabled BIPV applications likely inching closer to mass production levels toward the end of the decade, with the first commercial production of DSC modules coming within a five-year window from leading manufacturers such as Dyseol and 3GSolar. BIPV glass, the current hot-spot for DSC application, has channeled many investments and pilot efforts, particularly in Europe but with backing from Asian partners. Our latest analysis suggests the market for DSC-enabled BIPV glass will surge from just $1.3 million to more than $256 million in 2021.

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Perovskite and DSC: The Market Revolution Begins with BIPV

  1. 1. Page | 1 Perovskite and DSC: The Market Revolution Begins with BIPV No solar cell material ever has enjoyed such a rapid trajectory of improvements -- nor the subsequent attention from researchers, industry, and media -- as perovskite. This material, known for decades but whose ability to convert sunlight wasn't appreciated until the past few years, has suddenly gained popularity with a velocity proportional to the flood of performance improvements coming out months and even weeks apart: from barely 3 percent conversion efficiency in 2009 to 10 percent in 2012, 16 percent in 2013, and as high as 19 percent according to recent conference reports. (A combination of c-Si cells and perovskite is thought to be able to achieve 32 percent efficiency.) That's tantalizingly alongside the performance of mainstream conventional silicon-based PV, but with the potential for far simpler and cheaper processes and manufacturing. Here's why perovskite is attracting so much attention: • It can better absorb sunlight, meaning thinner films can be used, which means less materials (bringing costs down) • Perovskite requires only familiar wet chemistry techniques and simple benchtop processes -- manufacturing is vastly simpler than other solar technologies, from c-Si to liquid DSC • It's not liquid, which also makes for much simpler manufacturing especially at larger scale, and also means better lifetime stability • It offers significantly higher voltages because less energy is lost from activation and regeneration NanoMarkets sees very important ramifications from perovskite's unprecedented trajectory for one specific market segment: dye-sensitized solar cells (DSC). Several key DSC firms already have been at the forefront of the perovskite solar revolution: • The École Polytechnique Fédéral de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, a pioneer of modern-day DSC technology, touched 15 percent efficiency a year ago, and more recently behind closed doors has shown north of 17 percent efficiency, sources tell NanoMarkets. EPFL's DSC uses an inorganic-organic
  2. 2. Page | 2 composite material with a perovskite, such as a dye and a hole-transporting material consisting of organic materials in place of electrolyte. (Specifically, the structure is a solid-state DSC of glass-FTO-TiO2-CH3NH3PbI3-HTM-Au.) Performance fluctuations have been resolved by tightening the perovskite material's particle diameters, through a two-step deposition (Pbl2 accumulated on TiO2, then immersed in a CH3NH3I solution),resulting in a DSC with relatively high power conversion efficiency and high reproducibility. • Another DSC-perovskite pioneer is Oxford Photovoltaics in the U.K., which is developing DSC modules with ambitious cost targets of $0.32/W for its technology which emphasizes transparency and color ideal for BIPV applications on building glass facades and rooftops. The company, a spinoff from the U. of Oxford (with 13 exclusive patents), believes it can achieve 20 percent conversion efficiencies with perovskite DSC panels. In fact, the company tells NanoMarkets that it's entirely shifting its strategy and future business away from DSC to focus on perovskite thin-film solar cells, targeting the same BIPV markets with broader reach while also exploring the aforementioned hybrid silicon-perovskite cells. • Dyesol, a longtime leader in DSC and organic PV, is transitioning from expensive liquid-based materials to relatively cheaper solid-state materials, including perovskite sensitizers and the Spiro solid-state electrolyte -- a significant move considering the higher efficiency, lower cost, and better scalability prospects for solid-state DSCs. Dyesol also has a long association with EPFL. The flip side of perovskite's promise is its disruption to suppliers. A major reason why it's received so much research attention is because as mentioned above its simplicity is utterly the opposite of a barrier to entry. According to some back-of- the-napkin math from one DSC materials provider, a 1 MW system with 100,000 sq. m of surface area would require up to 25 lbs of film layers but just 1.5 kg of perovskite material at a market value of $100. All this excitement about perovskite material is, of course, happening at small-scale R&D. NanoMarkets understands much more work is needed before commercial viability can happen, most importantly in understanding the mechanics behind their degradation, making them stable and reliable over years of lifetime, improving their sensitivity to humidity, improving and simplifying how to properly package them, and all the while wringing costs out. A newer area of focus is replacing the tiny amounts of lead in current perovskite with other substances such as tin; the Pb
  3. 3. Page | 3 amounts are tiny but could be subject to penalties of toxicity, not to mention negative marketplace perceptions. We reiterate that all of this hoopla about perovskite is still several years away from translating into commercial-ready large- size (e.g. 1 square meter) modules with 10 percent conversion efficiencies. NanoMarkets believes, though, that perovskite's rapid trajectory of efficiency improvement, with potential pairing of DSC's features, could very well attract heightened interest from investors, strategically from within the industry and/or from capital markets, which could accelerate innovation and product development efforts and shorten the combined technologies' runway toward commercialization. Expanding the BIPV Market for DSC Conversion efficiency is a key metric because it directly impacts a system's cost of energy -- thus these recent advancements in perovskite ultimately translate into expanding the potential addressable end markets for DSC, bolstering its flexibility and customization capabilities with vastly improved energy output. First and foremost this means building-integrated PV (BIPV), integrated into roofs or architectural glass, and even into the walls, in products such as tiles, facades and shingles. If perovskite-based DSC solar cells can enter commercial production even at half their current efficiency (say at 10 percent or even the high-teens) that's a very viable commercial product that can compete favorably against other solar energy technologies, with added benefits of simplicity and cost, plus architectural flexibility and aesthetics -- light weight, robust, and semitransparent/light- transmissive. These BIPV applications also mean large panels, a far greater target market for DSC materials than, say, previous sectors of solar chargers on electronic products. And a higher-efficiency BIPV product can address markets with sub-optimal lighting conditions, from Europe to North America to Northeast Asia. Alongside the DSC/perovskite technology development progress, NanoMarkets also expects to see DSC firms ramping up their strategies and partnerships to get their products to the end market. Oxford PV, for example, eyeing architectural glass on large commercial developments, claims it will soon issue its first license to a glass manufacturer, with revenues ramping up in 2016. Dyesol, leveraging the EPFL technology for DSCs involving steel and glass, is shooting for mass production techniques for solid-state DSCs in the next three to four years.
  4. 4. Page | 4 Generally speaking, NanoMarkets sees DSC-enabled BIPV applications likely inching closer to mass production levels toward the end of the decade, with the first commercial production of DSC modules coming within a five-year window from leading manufacturers such as Dyseol and 3GSolar. BIPV glass, the current hot- spot for DSC application, has channeled many investments and pilot efforts, particularly in Europe but with backing from Asian partners. Our latest analysis suggests the market for DSC-enabled BIPV glass will surge from just $1.3 million to more than $256 million in 2021. For DSC used in roofing and siding applications, the use of liquid electrolyte has been a major disadvantage because of stringent sealing requirements to offset their sensitivity to moisture and air. Solid electrolytes -- perovskites would fall into this category -- could help improve this situation, especially if their efficiencies are vastly improved. Dyesol has disclosed plans to introduce solid-state DSCs for steel substrates within the next three years. NanoMarkets acknowledges uncertainty about overall industry commitment to pursuing commercial-production of DSC- integrated materials for roofs, given the increased ubiquity of cheaper silicon-based rooftop panels. Nevertheless, by the end of this decade we see this as another viable market for DSC, rising from nearly $6 million in 2016 to $225 million by 2021. 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 $Millions © NanoMarkets 2014 Eight-year Summary of DSC-Enabled Applications (AIPV) DSC Enabled Military Applications Sensor Network Devices Point of Point-of-Sale Devices Outdoor and Indoor Advertising Devices Utility Scale Devices Roofing/Siding Devices Glass Devices
  5. 5. Page | 5 DSC Markets Beyond BIPV Beyond BIPV, NanoMarkets recognizes other end market opportunities for DSC that could bear fruit with higher-efficiency technology that works in low/ambient light conditions. However, we feel these are still several years further out from being viable revenue streams, and well short of the scale promised by BIPV: • Sensor networks. This area has been boosted by the "Internet of Things" (IoT) movement, though PV is not the leading power source candidate. DSC would have competition from other energy harvesting options here, and NanoMarkets doesn't see much commercial large-scale adoption in the near future. • Military. Applied everywhere from drones to uniforms, this is another smaller- scale niche with dreams of taking off on large scale, as DSC's features of flexibility, light weight, and autonomy play perfectly into military applications. Nevertheless we don't see this as a major revenue generator even on an extended horizon. • Automotive. This is an intriguing area, envisioning DSC panels embedded in both the exterior (rooftops and windows) and interior surfaces of cars. SolarPrint and Fiat have done early work here. Rechargeable stands for electric vehicles is a related area. Like other markets this sector is still early-stage development, but NanoMarkets believes rapid improvements in performance will make a major impact in this area. • Indoor applications. Indoor portable charging was an early market for DSC because of the technology's ability to generate electricity under low-light and artificial lighting conditions, with 20 percent efficiency exhibited. NanoMarkets believes this market could serve as a good substitute revenue-generating stream for DSC firms aside from the bigger target market of BIPV, especially if a major home goods or electronics firm were to commit. Solar chargers, the DSC success story so far, fall into this category with several vendors (G24, Samsung, Sekisui, Sony, TDK) already commercializing products, but NanoMarkets sees opportunities expanding into areas such as furniture (tables and lamps) with translucent surfaces incorporating a small battery to charge a portable device (Solaronix has produced one such prototype). Other portable consumer electronics avenues include e-readers, solar lamps, and solar- powered blinds. • Outdoor applications. DSC is well suited to many outdoor applications, where its low-cost processing and flexibility trump lower efficiency and inflexibility of more traditional silicon-based PV options. Solar awnings and umbrellas are an
  6. 6. Page | 6 early application in the context of DSC, enabling structures that serve both as canopies and energy-generating surfaces. Digital signage, from LCD store displays to billboards, is a booming market with some off-grid requirements that PV and DSC could tap. NanoMarkets sees this mainly as a long-term possibility, however. • Retail applications. Point-of-scale displays such as kiosks require off-grid power which could be supplied by PV and DSC. DSC-enabled products have yet to be commercialized for this market, and improved efficiency will be key. While NanoMarkets sees significant growth in addressable capacity of DSC- enabled devices in this segment, that won't exactly translate into a major market opportunity. The materials for this paper were drawn from the following NanoMarkets reports: • CIGS Photovoltaics Markets-2014 and Beyond • BIPV Glass Markets-2014 & Beyond • BIPV Markets Analysis and Forecasts 2014-2021 • Dye Sensitized Cell Markets - 2014 Please visit for additional details