Evolution Overview

In the initial years (prior to 2005), we expect that the only commercial thin film, amorphous silicon, will compet e directly with crystalline silicon (the existing PV market leader). Costs should drop steadily. Cost drops will be driven by increased manufacturing volumes, access to more standardized markets, and improvements in process technolog y (materials use, rates, yields). During the same period (before 2005), at least one other thin film (most likely CdTe) will enter the marketplace in a significant fashion, further adding to competitive pressures for cost reduction. Because CdTe technology appears to have greater near-term potential for higher efficiency and lower cost than amorphous silicon , cost reduction should accelerate. Thus we see fully loaded module manufacturing costs dropping from today's about $4/Wp to about $2.2/Wp in 2000 and $1.0/Wp in 2005. It should be noted, however, that these cost reductions depend strongly on the timing of (1) increases in production volume, (2) the introduction of the CdTe technology to large-scale manufacturing (over 20 MW), and (3) ongoing market growth. If these do not occur, the attainment of $1/Wp will be delayed up to five years. Module costs are likely to fall by another factor of three by 2030 as (1) the efficiency o f commercial modules rises from 10% to 15% and (2) direct manufacturing costs drop from about $90/m2 to about $45/m2. Details concerning this progress are in the following sections. They are mostly dependent on technica l progress such as improvements in device designs, process rates, process yields, and materials utilization rates. The cost and performance projections made in this section depend on continued steady progress in thin film PV. Although good progress has been made in recent times, ongoing progress can not be assured.

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