The cost reductions will primarily be enabled through economies of scale that result from establishing a 300MW production plant and the ability to leverage existing flat panel display (FPD) technologies for use in high-volume PV manufacturing.
Markus Beck, CTO of Siva Power stated: “[although technology is important], this $0.28/watt roadmap is not fundamentally about technology, it is about simple scaling of an already known and proven process,” referring to the off-the-rack equipment available from the FPD industry. “No new science is needed, just engineering execution.”
Siva Power is currently constructing a pilot line to extend its CIGS technology and expects to be operating a full scale production facility within four years.
Siva Power’s announcement sounds less outrageous when compared to other cost projections released by leading PV commentators. The 2014 International Technology Roadmap for Photovoltaics (ITRPV) report projects average module prices to drop to US$0.45 per watt by 2018 and even to figures of US$0.33 per watt by 2024. These figures are not far from US$0.28 per watt and were generated under the assumption that the PV industry will remain dominated by crystalline silicon solar cells for some time, a configuration that incurs a relatively higher cost of silicon per module.
Cost reductions of this magnitude would push installed PV costs to below AU$1 per watt of solar PV installed by 2018, resulting in levelised cost of energy (LCOE) figures in the neighbourhood of US$0.03-0.07 per kWh of electricity. This would be a remarkable accomplishment, not only as a symbolic milestone but also as a signal of solar PV becoming an ever-competitive alternative to fossil fuel powered electricity.
What is also interesting about Siva Power’s recent announcement is the possibility of enabling production to occur in developed countries such as USA and Australia. As stated in Siva Power’s press release: “because of [Siva Power’s advanced CIGS] manufacturing approach, the projected costs are geography agnostic, and can be achieved in China, the United States or any other location.” This is significant not only for PV consumers but also serves as an opportunity for the local manufacturing industry in developed nations. The success of high-volume and high-tech PV may provide reason to re-establish local PV production if conditions are right.
Top Image Credit: Siva Power
© 2014 Solar Choice Pty Ltd