Thin film solar market picking up, not affected by Trump tariff

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Another rapidly moving development involves thin film solar technology, which was not affected by the Trump tariff. The US thin film market has been picking up. Just last last fall the company First Solar announced plans for a new factory in Ohio to produce its Series 6 thin film technology.

Thin film is not as efficient at solar conversion compared to conventional silicon-based PV panels, but its low cost, light weight, and range of applications make up the difference (check out this thin film market study published in the journal Nature last November, which advocates for thin film base on its high power-to-weight ratio).

Building integrated solar is another part of the market that will not be affected by rising prices for conventional solar panels from China. Building integrated solar refers to PV coatings and other solar technology integrated into roofing materials, walls, and windows.

Solar roofing shingles have been talked up for a while now because they cling attractively to the roofline, unlike conventional solar panels. Not much happened in that area until late last year, when the PV shingle dream finally turned into action. The company RGS Energy (aka Real Good Solar) announced that is picking up Dow’s PV shingle venture, giving Elon Musk’s solar shingles a run for the money.

PV windows are another area in which research has been progressing for several years without a mass market breakthrough. If you have any guesses for when that might happen, drop us a note in the comment thread.

PV-embedded textiles represent another area of application for buildings (think curtains and window shades), as well as tents and other structures.

Circling back around to conventional solar panels on buildings, exterior walls are another application ripe for growth.