Solar Executives Talk Decreasing Photovoltaics Production Costs



The dramatic decreases in costs and increases in performance of standard solar modules have contributed to the accelerated implementation of solar, but they also pose a challenge to new technologies trying to break into the industry, said Dr. Wolfgang Herbst, executive director of Viridis.iQ, GmbH, Germany, in the “Future of PV: A Technology and Market Outlook” session. The standard solar module now dominates the market with 85 percent of market share, he said, and companies pursuing new technologies need to be wary of the risks and difficulties of going up against the established norm, especially given the high volume, low cost environment that is typical of the industry today, he said. He counseled companies pursuing new PV technologies to mitigate risk by 1.) making sure not to underestimate the power of the competition in the form of standard PV technologies that are undergoing continuous improvement and 2.) taking advantage of available economies of scale offered by machines and materials that are established in the PV and other industries. “The starting point is quite challenging,” he said.

Dr. Herbst’s remarks were echoed by those of Dr. Ralf Preu, who is department head of PV production and quality assurance at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE), who urged an “evolutionary” approach to improving crystalline silicon photovoltaics. “Silicon has enormous potential for further cost reductions,” he said.

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