The next several years look bright for the photovoltaic industry as the demand for alternative energy grows and improvements to existing technology make solar power a more viable option for consumers.A market report published in December by BCC Research of Wellesley, Mass., predicts that the global demand for photovoltaics will expand rapidly over the next several years. The report, “Photovoltaics: Global Markets & Technologies,” says that the market for photovoltaics likely will reach $16 billion in 2008 and that it will swell to $32.2 billion by the end of the study period in 2013, reflecting a compound annual growth rate of 14.9 percent.A market study predicts that the shipment value of photovoltaic modules will increase from $12.9 billion in 2007 to $32.2 billion by 2013. Courtesy of BCC Research.The report anticipates that much of this growth will be fueled by the increased use of photovoltaic technology in industrial and living structures.Traditional silicon technology will continue to dominate the solar market, but it is expected to lose some of its share over the next few years, according to the report. Silicon technology accounted for 89 percent of the photovoltaic market last year. Although the study foresees continued improvements and very strong growth in silicon-based photovoltaics, other approaches will mature over the next several years and start to chip away at the sales of silicon. By 2013, the report predicts silicon will control 79 percent of the overall photovoltaic market.Among the alternative solar technologies that are expected to emerge are thin films, which could account for 19 percent of the market by the end of the forecast period. The improved efficiencies of thin films and their use on flexible substrates are expected to drive this growth. Dye-sensitized solar cells also will continue to grow but will represent only a minuscule portion of the overall market by 2013, according to the report.The study also offers an analysis of manufacturing capacity, technological issues, current markets and descriptions of types of photovoltaics.