At the recent European Photovoltaic Industry Association conference (EU PVSEC), I had the opportunity to address attendees about the industrialization of solar energy.
Through our experience in enabling the semiconductor and display industries, I was able to share Applied’s perspective on the three stages of growth in the evolution of any industry (a) development (b) scaling and (c) mainstream. The solar industry is just now beginning to transition from the development phase, which it has been in for the past 20+ years, into the scaling phase — where mass acceptance will be possible as costs decline. The solar industry has proven that the technology is viable by building and installing the first 10 gigawatts and now we have the task of scaling the technology to over 100 gigawatts worldwide.
Today, solar policies of governments around the world are targeting a total of 150-200 gigawatts by 2020 from a total installed base of about 15 gigawatts today. Taking this next step in scaling the industry to over 100 gigawatts is a significant challenge, and success will depend on the strength of solar policies and incentives globally, as well as advances in technology to drive demand and enable cost reduction. Once solar installations reach 100 gigawatts, we expect the demand curve and the underlying infrastructure to enable solar to become a mainstream, self-sustaining industry.
At Applied, the manufacturing technology and products we are delivering allow customers to improve solar panel efficiency and reduce cost per watt, leading the world toward a future where solar proves itself as one of the cleanest and most cost-effective ways of generating power. We have helped industrialize other industries, and we can help do it for solar as well.