fredag 10 augusti 2007

Small player tactics in the solar technology game

While Norwegian REC may be the most well-known example of Scandinavian solar energy technology, there are some very fine examples from Sweden as well.

However, for solar cell production, economy of scale is often a very important factor. Large investments are necessary for the construction of production facilities, and that creates an entry barrier for smaller players in the field. So how could smaller players tackle this? Well, economy of scale is not a phenomenon that is unique for the solar power tech sector, and lessons can be learnt from other sectors. One way for smaller companies to remain in the competition might be to find a niche market, and being unique or extraordinarily good at something very specific. For solar power, the variables commonly available to make your product stand out are efficiency and price. With cells being more efficient every year, and companies can stand out if they can offer commercial products with efficiency close to the levels reached in laboratories.
Another way to move ahead may be to apply unorthodox production methods to lower the price even in small and medium scale production. By simplifying the process, or applying techniques from other types of industrial production, cheaper cells can be produced, at the cost of lower efficiency.
Swedish company Midsummer are doing just that, hoping to get a share of the flourishing solar market.

Is this the way forward for smaller solar technology firms? Or would they, as in the case of Solibro, be better off trying to excell in quality, performance or efficiency, and associating themselves with a company of large production capacity?

2 kommentarer:

Joakim sa...

You'll find another Swedish company finding a way to a nichmarket at www.arontis.se - using concentrator and high efficeincy solar cells

Best regards,
Joakim Byström

Patrik Marckert sa...

Thanks - I'll have them in mind. I think I read about them receiving a Sustainability Award.