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Vision For PV Manufacturing In US

USA: Beyond policy and financial constraints of today, this session on PV manufacturing at the recently held Intersolar America 2012 revealed the shape of the future industry structure, from manufacturing to energy production, where value and performance will become the new paradigm.

US strengths to encourage solar manufacturing
Speaking on PV Manufacturing in the US: Leveraging US strengths will encourage domestic solar manufacturing, Eric Peeters, Business VP, Dow Corning Solar Solutions said that the global PV challenge includes driving down the cost of solar. Three key opportunities for cost reduction will drive future investment in solar. These are: module and cell efficiency, operational excellence/economy of scale and balance of systems innovation.

The United States is well positioned to help with these challenges. In terms of efficiency, the US is home to many materials equipment R&D. Gains are essential to a sustainable growing industry. New technologies, materials and equipment are now required.

Next, there is the need for operational excellence and economy of scale. The US has manufacturing expertise to drive operational excellence. There is high throughput yield through automation, process innovation and efficiency. A continued adoption of PV technology is required.

As for the balance of systems/installation, he said that the US installation growth can inspire BOS innovation. There is greatest short-term opportunity for lower installed cost of solar. Engineering construction expertise is required, which is readily available in the US.

Critical factors for PV globally include:
* removing trade barriers to enable global collaboration,
* manufacturing needs to be backed up with world-class innovation,
* Applied research in academia, with collaboration between academia and industry,
* Align industry roadmaps,
* Investment is needed to achieve world-class manufacturing standards with a high degree of automation. Consistent and stringent quality standards are needed for fabrication and installation,
* Technical talent needs to be educated and developed to work
throughout the solar industry value chain, from feedstock to installation, and
* Global demand needs to be stimulated in various ways, from research to manufacturing to installation.

Need to change approach

Jeannine Sargent, president, Renewable Energy and LED Lighting said Flextronics has over 600 MWp manufacturing capacity. It has 1,200+ employees supporting module manufacturing since 2009 across locations in the USA, Canada and Asia Pacific. Flextronics produces FC and BC cells, p and n types of modules.

What the industry says today is a variable capacity across multiple customers to satisfy economies of scale. There is the ownership of inventory leveraging purchase power that will drive down cost. The industry efficiently and cost effectively ramps capacity.

What the industry does is that it specifies unique sets of capital equipment, which is obsolete/unusable for other modules. It requires unique bills of material that cannot be easily liquidated, driving up inventory costs.

There is need to change approach to PV module manufacturing and focus on system level solutions to grow the US market.

The industry needs to re-examine its approach to PV module manufacturing. Lower module costs will accelerate adoption of solar energy in the US based on economic viability and not on subsidies alone. Stress should focus on identifying and creating system-level solutions that are optimized for the US grid and energy policy/regulation.

There should be some correlation between commonality and success. The translation in solar modules are common construction techniques, contacting strategies, direct materials and capital equipment.

To grow the US solar market, there is a need to accept new approach to module manufacturing to enable scale and an economically viable solar value chain. There should be common contacting scheme with interchangeable manufacturing platforms and adherence to industry standards. Suppliers can grow the US solar market by delivering system-level solutions meeting unique needs of the grid.

Need for collaborative efforts

Bettina Weiss, VP, PV Business Unit, SEMI remarked that an increased adoption of solar energy is directly connected to decreasing cost in the solar manufacturing process are directly connected.

Collaborative efforts in the PV industry help mitigate shared challenges and accelerate technology development, leading to efficiency gains, shared vision for where cost reduction can/should occur, with clear targets and customer focus on quality, reliability and price.

Companies participating in SEMI's standards and technology roadmap development can leverage in-house efforts to protect IP and innovation, while promoting best practices adopted by the industry at large.
source: internet