Building a Viable Solar Sector

I recently wrote a piece for EnergyBiz Magazine on advancing solar manufacturing technology to enable solar photovoltaic (PV) technology to become a significantpart of the global energy portfolio by lowering the cost-per-watt. Thefollowing is a brief excerpt from the article.

There are two ways to lower the cost-per-watt: increase conversion efficiency and lower manufacturing cost. These can be accomplished simultaneously. History shows us how powerful economies of scale can be. In the lasttwo years, for example, the price of crystalline silicon-based panels fell by more than 30 percent as new capacity came on line.

Increasing efficiency is an additional lever available to PV manufacturers. Withhigher efficiency, a given manufacturing line has greater capacity.Fewer modules are needed to create an installation with a given poweroutput, lowering the balance of system cost. Additionally, higher powermodules can give a manufacturer a differentiated product in a crowdedmarket.

New techniques toraise efficiency that add manufacturing steps must be accompanied byimproved manufacturing processes to offset the extra complexity. Thishas been proven in multiple production settings over the recent pastwith double-printed contact lines. Although the approach requires anadditional screen printer with exacting alignment capabilities, theincremental capital cost has a payback period well under one year andadds up to 0.5 percent absolute efficiency increase.

Visit the EnergyBiz web site to access the full article.



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