The role of policy in the innovation and cost reduction history of solar PV. Ajay Gambhir Grantham Institute, ICL

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1 The role of policy in the innovation and cost reduction history of solar PV Ajay Gambhir Grantham Institute, ICL

2 Long-term cost reduction history

3 Was it inevitable? Curtright et al (2008): Asked 18 experts: what s the probability that c-si PV module price < $1.2/Wp by 2030: many said 1.0, but a significant minority said 0.6 or less The asked them: what s the probability that c-si PV module price < $0.3/Wp by 2030: most said 0.0; almost all said 0.2 or less. Nemet (2006): Detailed bottom-up cost model that explained price dynamics well predicted $1.0/Wp would be hit by 2050 Swanson (2006): Surveyed 23 silicon experts at NREL in 2002 on various cost input parameters Derived a cost reduction path leading to $1.0/Wp by 2012

4 Module cost, $/Wp What will happen next? micron wafer Steel wire cut 500 MW per year plant Module efficieny 14.9% Diamond wire cut 160 micron wafer 2GW per year plant Passivated Emitter Cell (18.7% module efficiency) 80 micron wafer No kerf loss Module - other Module - materials Cell - other Cell - materials Wafer - other Wafer - sawing Wafer - polysilicon HIT Cell (21.4% module efficiency) IBC Cell (22.4% module efficiency)

5 Quick history of Si PV Space cells 1960s Terrestrial cell R&D and demonstration % breakthrough China PV manufacturing (2000s) German (and other) FiTs 1990s Cell design Improvements 1980s

6 How do you make a PV module? Polysilicon feedstock Wafer Cell Module

7 What got better over time? Polysilicon Wafer Cell Module Overall process Siemens process Fluidised bed reactor process Union Carbide/Komatsu process Czochralski process - crystal diameter increase Multicrystalline process - ingot size increase Ribbon wafers ID wafer sawing Vacuum deposition of electrodes SiO 2 AR layer Silicone rubber laminate Multi-wire sawing Screen printed electrode metal pastes TiO 2 AR layer Hand fabrication of most processes Wafer area doubled, thickness ~ halved Buried copper electrodes SiN X AR layer SiN X for bulk passivation of mc-si Al back layer to passivate rear surface of cell EVA/glass lamination with polymer backing Increasing automation Cheaper solar-grade silicon (newer processes / scale) Thinner wafers with less Si wastage More efficient cells Tougher, cheaper encapsulants

8 What role did policy play? Learning rate estimates link cost-reduction to cumulative deployment (LR = 15-30%) Suggests deployment support was critical But there wasn t much before early 1990s Multi-factor learning curves also include public R&D funding, silicon prices, silver prices and economies of scale (LR = 10-20%) Not clear what the policy conclusion is

9 Role of policy (2) R&D Bell Labs R&D Space research (US spent >$50m) US Flat Plate Solar Array Project Japan Sunshine Project for solar R&D New Sunshine Programme Demonstration US Government purchase blocks I - V (~500 kw purchased in total) US demonstrations (Principally PVMAT) Japan NEDO demonstrations German, Japanese, US rooftop demonstrations Deployment US tax credits for PV German FiTs Japan capital subsidies FiTs (US, Japan, Europe) $115/W $10/W $5/W $2.5/W $1/W

10 Solar flat plate array project,

11 Mapping policy regimes to technical improvements Dominant policies Module design innovations Module manufacturing innovations Long-term manufacturing trends Installed capacity Public R&D Better crystal quality Improved doping AR coatings Multi-crystalline wafers Demonstrations Passivation techniques Larger crystal sizes Screen-printed contacts Cheaper, more durable laminates Multi-wire sawing Plated Copper contacts Deployment support New and larger scale polysilicon processes Larger, thinner wafers Plant scale-up (100 kw/yr to 1 GW per yr) Plant automation 1 MW 100 MW 500 MW 5000 MW 100,000 MW Module cost $50/Wp $10/Wp $5/Wp $2.5/Wp $1/Wp

12 Insights and recommendations Learning curves for solar PV suggests a law of ~80% progress ratio In reality lots of different factors have led to cost reductions: some R&D-related some demonstration-related some scale-related Niche markets (space, remote comms) have been helpful, but policy has been critical at each stage Too simplistic to lump all innovation into R&D funding efforts Future PV (and other technologies) can do better: Assess when designs are good enough to field test Multi-factor demonstration programmes to make the technologies market-ready Work closely with industry to ensure lab-stage research can be reproduced at commercial scale in factories Then incentivise scale-up and supply chain development

13 Bibliography Curtright AE, Morgan MG, Keith DW. Expert Assessments of Future Photovoltaic Technologies. Environ Sci Technol 2008;42: Gambhir, A, Gross, R, Green, R. The impact of policy on technology innovation and cost reduction: a case study on crystalline silicon solar PV modules. Imperial College Working Paper, Nov Goodrich A, Hacke P, Wang Q, Sopori B, Margolis R, James TL, et al. A wafer-based monocrystalline silicon photovoltaics road map: Utilizing known technology improvement opportunities for further reductions in manufacturing costs. Sol Energy Mater Sol Cells 2013;114: Nemet GF. Beyond the learning curve: factors influencing cost reductions in photovoltaics. Energy Policy 2006;34: Swanson RM. A vision for crystalline silicon photovoltaics. Prog Photovolt Res Appl 2006;14:

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