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Friday, 19 August 2011

Choosing Cost Reduction Strategies for c-Si Manufacturing

Aug 9, 2011

The conservatism of current manufacturers can only stall process change if manufacturers can be convinced that scale-economies alone can deliver grid parity.

There is something disconcerting about going through a speed-trap at 100mph and not breaking any laws. No flash, no flashing blue lights, just a high-speed procession of cars past an inactive radar camera. This is very typical of Germany, a country that will accept costly new technologies under certain circumstances, but only when it is deemed necessary and popular. The rapid adoption of solar photovoltaics (PV) is broadly seen as necessary in Germany (although not without spirited discussion), and it is for this reason they have been in the vanguard of the PV industry.

Reducing the Cost of Power

In the world of PV, cell manufacturers have an absolute need to reduce the cost of the power generated by photovoltaic installations, because even in Germany the patience to subsidize this technology is limited. A world class competitor in cell manufacturing must choose cost reduction strategies. One approach is one of capital intensive, high technology implementation that reduces cell variable costs through quality, utilization, process control, and efficiency optimization. Another approach is one of high utilization of a low-cost asset base, leveraging cheap factory costs and regional financial advantages.

The reality that a PV module is expected to be productive for at least 20 years means that quality and consistency of construction are important attributes for a supplier to establish. Even a low-cost supplier will make significant efforts to ensure that quality certifications are achieved and maintained, allowing the final product to be financed, or “bankable” in very large installations.
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