“Great Price Decline” of PV is over, but recovery will take time

New Update

PARIS, FRANCE: Tuesday' plenary session featured an in depth analysis of cost factors for PV installations and a market outlook given by Pierre Verlinden, Trinasolar. He pointed out five essential conditions for the PV sector to become "adult": cash-flow sustainability, a subsidisation-free market, material and energy sustainability and grid management sustainability.


Verlinden showed how the average selling price of modules had dropped by 81.75 percent between 2008 and 2012, however in 2013 a 0 percent increase in the price of modules was observed, though it is unlikely that prices will reach the previous peaks ever again. Manufacturing cost has dropped by 70.1 percent, mostly driven by reductions in the cost of silicon feedstock, casting and wafering while cost increases have been observed in labour and in the supply of silver.

Indeed developing silver free cell processes was indicated as one of the main challenges for the future of the PV sector to avoid ending in the next supply constrained market. Reducing the energy payback time and carbon footprint of PV modules are key to a sustainable PV industry he concluded.

Rolf Brendel - Institute for Solar Energy Research Hamelin, talked about the future of silicon crystalline solar cells. He introduced both sides screen-printed p-type Si cells developed at ISHR capable of achieving nearly 20.5 percent efficiency and a new type of cells developed with BOSCH achieving 22 percent efficiency.

He also introduced kerfless and thin film kerfless solutions as a way to reduce the cost of modules by reducing the use of silicon and saving on the crystallization and wafering phase. The efficiencies of thin-film kerfless Si demonstrated i.e. in the Solexel technology can achieve an outstanding level of 20.1 percent.

Samuel Gall, Ceatech presented the recent results achieved in building modules with high efficient industrial N-type bifacial technologies, which can offer advantages such as tolerance for metallic impurities and a stable and long lifetime. His team at Ceatech was able to develop a stable and reproductive process producing a batch of 85 cells with 20 percent average efficiency and a 60 cells module with a power of 289.9W.