The latest edition of the PV manufacturing roadmap has highlighted the crucial role of manufacturing innovation in ensuring solars ongoing competitiveness as a power source. It has also painted a picture in which manufacturers continue to face challenges with oversupply continuing to be a future, however a suite of technological innovation delivering cost reductions and efficiency increases.
Average module power output rolling off standard production lines in 2025 should reach 310Wp, in 60-cell modules the ITPRV predicts. Costs too will continue to decline in line with the historic 20% learning curve.
Technologies delivering both these cost reductions and power increases come in the form of improved manufacturing materials, and advanced cell technologies including double and single-sided cell contacting, improved crystalline silicon wafers (c-Si), and improvements in front and rear side passivation. Module improvements, to deliver reduced cell-to-module losses, are also set to play a role in the progression of PV manufacturing.
Looking towards the current PV manufacturing landscape, the ITPRV finds that global PV production capacity currently stands at between 45 GWp and 55 GWp. c-Si technology continues to comprise the lions share of production capacity, coming in at around 90%, with the remainder spread across the various thin film technologies.
The latest ITPRV concludes that PV manufacturing continues to deliver around a 21% decrease in average selling price (ASP) for every doubling of PV production capacity. This rate has deviated in accordance with the tremendous market fluctuations between 2003 and 2013, however the average linear price digression still holds.
The most recent data points on the learning curve graph indicate that with 34 GWp of production capacity in 2013, ASPs came in at US$0.72/W. In 2013, with 39.3 GWp of capacity, ASPs averaged $0.62/Wp.
Looking more deeply at recent ASP decreases, the roadmap finds that between 2010 and 2015, manufacturing overcapacity continues to play a major role. The ITPRV concludes that with over 60 GWp of module capacity remaining in the market and exceeding demand, predicted in the report, of 50 GWp, pressure on PV module manufacturing will persist. To survive such pressures, the roadmap finds that manufacturers will have to continue to focus on reducing consumable and materials costs.
To meet the challenge presented by overcapacity, the ITPRV proffers three strategies for manufacturers:
i) Continue the cost reduction per piece along the entire value chain by optimizing the utilization of the installed production capacity and by using Si and non-Si materials more efficiently. ii) Introduce specialized module products for different market applications (i.e. tradeoff between cost-optimized, highest volume products and fully customized niche products). iii) Improve module power/cell efficiency without significantly increasing processing costs.