Giorgio is a member of Applied Baccini’s R&D team. Prior to joining Baccini, he worked on developing biochips and electronics for the space and satellite industry at Padua University where he received his Ms.D. and Ph.D. He has received several awards for advanced scientific research, and has been widely published in leading scientific journals and books. He is a senior member of the IEEE.
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 recently posted 2010 predictions for solar market was a stimulus for reflections on local business opportunities. Being Italian, it comes natural to contribute to this blog with a discussion about the solar photovoltaic (PV) market in Italy and the innovation potential.
Italy's goal is to have 3 gigawatts (GW) of PV by 2016. Today, Italy has 0.3 - 0.6 GW of solar PV installed (although statistics on installed capacity vary widely). According to Enel SpA, the cumulative PV capacity in Italy is 0.4 gigawatts peak (GWp), split 17% ground-connected (grid), 60% commercial rooftop and 23% residential rooftop.
Financial analysts see the market growing to 0.6 - 1 GW in 2010. If the 1 GW in 2010 scenario comes true, then Italy will need to grow the PV installed capacity by 20% a year to reach the 2016 goal. GIFI Italia (Gruppo Imprese Fotovoltaiche Italiane) expects 1.3 GWp installed during 2016 alone for an overall cumulative capacity of 7.2 GWp. Is this growth feasible operationally, technologically or financially?
In addition to market demand and government incentives, extremely advanced technologies are required to support the steadily decreasing price of power generated by photovoltaic (PV) cells. One of the most crucial technologies is the metallization on the two sides of the wafer to conduct the electrons, that is, electric power, out of the cell. This is mostly done with screen printing, where a conductive paste is forced through the openings of a fabric (called a screen) to establish contact with the wafer.