SOURCE: Lux Research

Lux Research

October 28, 2009 08:00 ET

Picking Solar's Rising Stars on the Lux Innovation Grid

A Select Few of 127 Photovoltaic Module Makers Will Emerge From the Solar Shakeout, Says Lux Research

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwire - October 28, 2009) - It's been a sobering year in the solar market. Oversupply has forced module makers to reduce prices as much as 30% in the past twelve months. Despite the looming shakeout, expectations of future growth still attract new challengers to an industry already overcrowded with competitors and a tangled mix of technology platforms. Only a select few will emerge as dominant players, according to a new report from Lux Research.

Entitled "Sorting Solar Module Makers on the Lux Innovation Grid," the report provides suppliers, customers, and investors with Lux Research's proprietary visual model that quantitatively compares 127 module makers according to their technical value, business execution, and maturity.

"The core value of this report is being able to see top module makers all ranked in one place," said Johanna Schmidtke, an analyst at Lux Research and the report's lead author. "It allows readers to compare different technology classes, as well as to benchmark the companies operating within each class against each other."

Based on information gathered in over 200 interviews with industry executives, the report encompasses solar technologies including crystalline silicon (x-Si), thin film silicon (TF-Si), cadmium telluride (CdTe), copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS), concentrated photovoltaics CPV), and organic and Grätzel PV. It rates companies within these fields on the Lux Innovation Grid to identify dominant, undistinguished, long-shot, and high potential players. Among its conclusions:

--  Select x-Si module vendors continue to dominate installation markets.
    Improved polysilicon pricing should help cement crystalline silicon's
    advantage in most installation markets through next year. Players such as
    Sanyo Electric, SunPower and Sharp Electronics are best positioned to
    pursue tailored, high-efficiency products for the residential market.
    
--  Thin-film PV will gain market share in commercial and utility. Aside
    from First Solar, the thin film PV market is wide open, with no companies
    clearly dominating and many at risk. Their future survival depends on how
    well they grow capacity, deliver performance and reliability, and prove
    cost competitive over x-Si. First Solar, meanwhile, will compete against x-
    Si module makers for utility-scale installations in the U.S. and China.
    
--  A mixed bag of CIGS start-ups shows no clear leaders. As a group, CIGS
    start-ups show a range of technical value and business execution scores,
    but none have mastered both dimensions yet. Solibro and Solyndra offer
    strong technical value, but still lack the business execution to dominate
    the field. Similarly, Johanna Solar Technology and Showa Shell Sekiyu
    present convincing business execution scores, but haven't yet shown the
    differentiated technical value needed to make a true impact.
    

"Unlike the battery industry, where end applications are very diverse, solar is populated by a lot of module makers all targeting the same few applications: utility, commercial, and residential installations," said Schmidtke. "The Lux Innovation Grid will give readers a sense of who's ahead, who's behind, and who's just treading water."

"Sorting Solar Module Makers on the Lux Innovation Grid" is part of the Lux Solar Intelligence service. Clients subscribing to this service receive ongoing research on market and technology trends, continuous technology scouting reports and proprietary data points in the weekly Lux Research Solar Journal, and on-demand inquiry with Lux Research analysts.

About Lux Research

Lux Research provides strategic advice and on-going intelligence for emerging technologies. Leaders in business, finance and government rely on us to help them make informed strategic decisions. Through our unique research approach focused on primary research and our extensive global network, we deliver insight, connections and competitive advantage to our clients. Visit www.luxresearchinc.com for more information.

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