Solar installations are rocketing worldwide as solar electricity becomes cheaper than electricity from fossil fuels – it’s already happened in 105 countries. This is the tipping point where economics takes over from altruism and solar PV becomes a serious part of the global energy mix.
The steady drop in cost-per-watt is great news for the end user and is enabled by simultaneous increases in cell efficiency and lower manufacturing costs.
If you’re a cell manufacturer, though, dropping prices are a double-edged sword: strong demand is good, but you must continuously lower costs by improving your manufacturing processes in order to be profitable.
So, in a fiercely competitive industry, how is this done?
After the jump, we’ll look at a great example of how cell manufacturers can boost profitability using an emerging technique called “double printing”.
The solar market has grown far beyond what most analysts had predicted even 5-10 years ago, and Applied Materials has played a key role in driving down the costs of solar modules by helping to improve efficiencies and through advances in solar cell manufacturing technology.
However, while falling module prices have made solar somewhat more affordable, the net system installed cost is still very high, especially in the residential and commercial markets. As anyone who has tried installing a solar system on their rooftop knows, the final, installed price is still high, largely because of the balance of system (BOS) – all the upfront costs associated with a photovoltaic system except the module* – hasn’t declined at the same rate as the modules prices. If we could lower the BOS cost, we believe a great deal of pent-up demand could be unleashed.
At Applied Materials we love trying new things, so to celebrate the Summer Solstice, I spent the day yesterday, answering questions about solar energy and photovoltaics on Reddit, one of the world’s biggest and most vibrant online communities.
During the day-long, live “Ask Me Anything” question and answer session, I received nearly 1,000 comments and questions, ranging from topics like how to get a job in renewable energy to nuclear versus solar! I had a great time discussing my passion and life’s work, and answered as many questions as I could throughout the day.
If you have a moment, spend some time reading through the questions the community asked and the responses provided, but to save you some time, listed in this post are the ten best questions, as voted by the Reddit community.
Professor Devang V. Khakhar, Director at IIT Bombay formed an advisory committee comprising of eminent members from both academia and industry, to oversee the center’s direction. Dr. Madhusudan Atre, president of Applied Materials in India was recently appointed as a member of this prestigious committee.
Already the country’s leading producer of oil and gas and wind energy, Texas has an opportunity to take the lead in generating solar energy too. It’s the perfect triple play. Texas has more sun than any other state, ample land resources for large scale and distributed solar installations, and a tremendous need for domestic energy generation. Solar is an ideal solution and the market is growing exponentially in markets where a favorable regulatory scheme exists. So how can we jump start this industry in Texas?
Last week, Applied Materials participated in the 5th SNEC PV Power Expo in Shanghai. Since this show began in 2007, China has become the world’s foremost supplier of solar cells and modules, and SNEC is now one of the industry’s largest, must-attend solar events.
In our exhibit booth, Applied Materials proudly articulated our leadership on the large centerpiece backboard — "#1 Solar PV Manufacturing Solutions." Visitors to our booth learned about what has driven our success: Applied’s Baccini systems for screen printing applications and our PWS wafering tools.
Yingli Green Energy granted Applied Materials its "Special Contribution Award" for excellence in optimizing the efficiency and productivity of its solar photovoltaic (PV) cell manufacturing operations in Baoding, Hebei province, China.
Applied Materials was one of only two equipment manufacturers among Yingli’s 200 suppliers to win this prestigious award. This was the highest honor given to Yingli’s business partners during its 1st Supplier Conference held recently in Baoding, China.
There are many prestigious prizes which institutions and academics award to honor people for their exceptional efforts or accomplishments that benefit science, academia or even mankind. And many of them are not well known yet.
Applied Materials is gearing up for an eventful participation in the 25th European Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition (EU PVSEC) in Valencia, Spain this week. This is a time of considerable ferment.
The President of Applied Materials' Solar division, Dr. Charlie Gay, is featured in a Q&A article in the August issue of the global photovoltaic business magazine, InterPV. The following is a brief except of the article.
Applied Materials was founded in 1967 and has since become the leading supplier of manufacturing equipment to the semiconductor, display and more recently, the Photovoltaic (PV) industry. Today, virtually every semiconductor chip and liquid crystal flat panel display in the world is produced using Applied Materials manufacturing equipment.