Tuesday, October 7, 2008

PV's "Moore's Law" Required To Drive Increased Material Efficiency

by Debra Vogler, Senior Technical Editor, Solid State Technology

The road to grid parity for PV power generation will be difficult, needing five or more years to compete with utility power, unsubsidized, on a large scale, noted Mark Thirsk, managing partner at Linx Consulting, at a recent SEMI PV forecast luncheon (Sept. 18) in Santa Clara, CA.

Most input materials for PV production are in relative oversupply and will not constrain production, Thirsk pointed out — and for this reason manufacturers are conservative about capacity investment. In particular, his PV module production forecast shows an overstep in demand in 2008. One reason for suppliers' reluctance to build capacity for entering the silicon supply chain is that it is an inefficient process. "Only about 15% of all the silicon going into the supply chain goes into the wafers, so it's a pretty wasteful and capital intensive process, so there is a lot of reluctance to build capacity," said Thirsk. Despite the efficiency challenges, Thirsk's forecast indicates that an oversupply may occur in 2009.


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