Niche Solar Markets Grow to 1.2 GW in 2024

June 25, 2014 By Karen Henry

lux-research-energy-manageAfter failing to displace crystalline silicon in core application segments, many thin-film solar manufacturers have sought out smaller, niche markets where they can leverage flexibility, lightweight, and aesthetic attributes. A suite of niche applications, led by building-integrated photovoltaics (PV) that incorporate PV panels directly in building roofs, skylights or facades, will help the niche solar market to grow to 1.2 GW in 2024, according to a new report by Lux Research.

The report, “Into the Niche: Putting a Magnifying Glass on PV’s Tiniest Markets,” uses a logistics curve analysis to forecast markets for niche applications through 2024. The report includes the following findings:

  • Roofing products like solar shingles have the most traction in the building-integrated PV segment, accounting for 425 MW, or nearly half its market. But facades will grow faster—at a 20 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR)—to 407 MW.
  • Electronics will emerge as the fastest-growing segment of the thin-film PV market, driven by solar chargers that are popular with outdoor enthusiasts and off-grid users. The rechargers will grow 31-fold to 125 MW (199 MW) in 2024.
  • Europe, the Middle East and Africa will remain the largest niche PV market, growing from 66 MW in 2013 to 505 MW in 2024. However, Asia-Pacific will expand faster, growing at a 23 percent CAGR from 27 MW to 315 MW, while the Americas market will grow steadily from 61 MW to 340 MW.

Although market adoption has been limited and will remain small relative to conventional solar demand, the niche application can be a profitable side business that supports a core business market, the report said.

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