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PV coatings boom seen as panels get more efficient, cheaper

Posted: 15 Mar 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:coatings? solar? panel? photovoltaics?

NanoMarkets has released a report on "Smart Coatings in Photovoltaics," which forecasts that sales of solar panel coating materials will rocket from negligible now, to $504 million in 2016, and $847 million in 2018. The market analyst sees smart coatings as the answer to the solar panel challenges of increasing efficiency, lowering costs and creating higher value-added products.

According to the report, self-cleaning coatings deposited on PV panels promise both higher panel performance and lower maintenance costs. Self-cleaning glass is already available from major glass manufacturers, so no great leaps in technology are required to deploy it in the PV space. By 2016, self-cleaning smart coatings sold to the PV sector will reach more than $150 million in revenues.

Also, electrochromic and similar on-demand tinting smart coatings will generate $222 million from sales to the PV sector in 2016. NanoMarkets believes that by then, lucrative opportunities will have arrived in this sector through the melding of building-integrated photovoltaic glass panels with electrochromic smart windows. NanoMarkets also foresees electrochromic PV windows that incorporate OLED technology, so that they can serve as lights after dark.

Plus, thermochromic smart coatings are also expected to play a role in PV. These can be used to turn panels "off" under extreme heat conditions that could permanently damage them. Some PV technologiesnotably CdTe PVare sensitive to heat and permanent degradation is possible if the panels are operated at too high a temperature.

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