SAN JOSE, Calif. An investment banking firm slightly increased its forecast for solar cell production in 2006 and 2007, but noted that polysilicon material shortages will continue to plague the industry.
The lack of polysilicon is expected to cause a shortfall of solar cells in the worldwide market throughout 2006, according to Piper Jaffray Inc. senior analyst Jesse Pichel.
“The solar shortage will be most pronounced in 2006, and we anticipate only modest solar industry production growth of 9 percent,” Pichel said in a report. In comparison, solar industry production grew about 35 percent in 2005 and 70 percent in 2006, he said.
“We modestly increase our 2006 solar cell production estimate from 1828-megawatts (MW) to 1868-MW,” he said. “This increase is based on expected improvements in silicon usage on higher solar cell efficiency/thinner wafers.”
Polysilicon usage is expected to average 10.5-grams-per-Watt in 2006, down from 12-grams-per-Watt in 2005.
“We estimate only a mere 5 percent production growth for solar manufacturers using tradition polysilicon wafers and anticipate production of 1610-MW in 2006. Thin-film solar manufacturers will increase production by 50 percent in 2006 to 183-MW and ribbon production will increase 45 percent in 2006 to 75-MW,” he said.
The outlook looks better for 2007. “We estimate 2007 solar production of 2196-MW (18 percent growth year-over-over), from our previous forecast of 2096-MW, again on higher recycling and higher silicon usage efficiency,” he said.
There is no change in the firm’s polysilicon production estimates. Worldwide polysilicon production is projected to grow from 31,000 tons in 2005 to 36,000 tons in 2006, up 15 percent over last year. In 2007, polysilicon production is projected to hit 39,650 tons, up 10 percent over 2006.