Solar PV Cells to Made in the USA ( Solar Thermal Magazine)
Siva Power, a leader in advanced solar energy, has received an award from the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative recognizing the firm’s innovative technology and processes that will enable it to manufacture solar panels in the United States at the world’s lowest cost.
The SunShot Initiative is a national effort to make solar energy cost-competitive with traditional energy sources by the end of the decade. Ten firms nationwide recently received cooperative awards under the Solar Manufacturing Technology funding program, which aims to bridge the gap from invention to commercialization, bringing innovative technology to scale. Siva was the only thin-film panel awardee.
The SunShot goal is to reduce the average selling price of solar panels to under $0.50 per watt by 2020. The Chinese currently sell the cheapest solar panels in the world with prices averaging about $0.70/watt. While the lowest Chinese manufacturing costs are close to $0.50/watt, they need a little profit, so the selling price is still about 40% over the SunShot goal. Siva Power plans to build a production line with costs of $0.40/watt within the first year of operation, and achieving $0.28/watt two years after that. This means Siva Power could profitably – and sustainably – sell solar panels at less than the $0.50/watt SunShot goal, and Siva Power states these record-breaking numbers could be achieved while manufacturing in the United States.
The Energy Department’s $3 million award to Siva Power supports the firm’s plans to demonstrate a CIGS co-evaporation source with 12x higher manufacturing throughput (m2/min) than currently available sources, enabling a fully automated CIGS deposition system at a 3x reduction in capex, labor, and overhead costs per watt. This CIGS system along with other high-speed tools will allow Siva to build the world’s largest production line, at 300MW.
SunShot employs a fair, unbiased, and rigorous selection process, including peer reviews by DOE scientists and industry professionals, to select the most meritorious projects for funding.
“It is exciting to see the U.S. government invest not only in new technology, but in bringing that technology to market, which is exactly what Siva Power is doing,” said Brad Mattson, Siva Power CEO.
This award will help us scale our proprietary co-evaporation process to build a 300 MW production line, about 10X the output of typical solar production lines. That 10X advantage is the key to reducing costs, enabling Siva Power to beat the ambitious SunShot targets and to do it ahead of schedule.
Mattson is highly experienced in scaling technology from the laboratory to production lines. He is a Silicon Valley veteran who has twice founded companies in the semiconductor industry, including Novellus Systems and Mattson Technology. He attributes much of this success to understanding not just how to develop the right technology, but how to speed it up so as to achieve scale economically. Mattson says that methodology is exactly Siva Power’s strategy, now being applied to solar instead of semiconductors.
“We look forward to continuing a research partnership with Siva Power as part of the Energy Department’s SunShot Solar Manufacturing Technology program,” said Dan Arvizu, Director of the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
CIGS cell efficiency has risen to nearly 22 percent, and this is an opportune time for companies to accelerate commercialization efforts in the U.S.
“After more than 20 years in the industry, it is great to be part of a management team that gets it!” said Dr. Markus Beck, Siva Power CTO. Beck is widely regarded in the solar community as one of the top scientists in his field of CIGS thin-film solar. “There are two parts to the solution,” Beck continued.
You need to have the right technology, but also the right processes to enable the efficient scaling of product in order to make a huge difference in the solar industry. I dedicated my career to seeing CIGS make it, and now we have the team and support to make it happen.
ST Staff Writers
This post was prepared by Solar Thermal Magazine staff.