The transparent conductor (TC) layer in thin film solar cell modules has a significant impact on the power conversion efficiency. Reflection, absorption, resistive losses and lost active area either from the scribed interconnect region in monolithically integrated modules or from the shadow losses of a metal grid in standard modules typically reduce the efficiency by 10-25%. Here, we perform calculations to show that a competitive TC must have a transparency of at least 90% at a sheet resistance of less than 10 Ω/sq (conductivity/absorptivity ≥ 1 Ω -1) for monolithically integrated modules. For standard modules, losses are much lower and the performance of alternative lower cost TC materials may already be sufficient to replace conducting oxides in this geometry. © 2011 The Royal Society of Chemistry.