20130719 Jeff Cotter - Tackling PV Manufacturing Costs

19 July 2013
Tackling PV Manufacturing Costs

Adjunct A/Professor Jeff Cotter
Arizona State University & The Australian National University

The PV Industry now has very aggressive cost targets on the order of $0.50/Wp module cost within the next 5-10 years, and rightly so, there continues to be ongoing R&D effort devoted to developing new technology platforms (thin-film, tandem, organic, dye-sensitized, quantum, nano, graphene, to name a few) as well as making major platform improvements (kerf-less silicon wafers, ultra-passivated surfaces, n-type silicon wafers, IBC architectures, just within the silicon-wafer technology platform).

However, as the industry transitions into high-volume manufacturing, the factory cost of goods manufactured (COGM) become an increasingly important opportunity for further progress in meeting our aggressive cost targets. While COGM cost-improvement opportunities are typically relatively small in dollars-per-watt terms, they can often be deployed across the whole manufacturing base, resulting in potentially attractive NPV or ROI figures. Further, the cost-improvement opportunities are plentiful, especially considering the span of the value chain, and in sum they can have a significant contribution to efforts to reach future cost targets. Finally, COGM cost-improvement activities can be captured relatively quickly, especially in comparison to new technology platform development programs, for example.

Improving COGM primarily an engineering activity, so as an industry, we must equip our engineers and engineering managers with the necessary skills to make effective progress. This talk will illustrate how engineers and managers tackle COGM improvements with a few various examples. It will then describe the PV Manufacturing Science course curriculum under development in collaboration with Arizona State University and The Australia National University that aims to teach undergraduate and postgraduate key skills needed by engineers and managers working on cost, quality, reliability and performance in/around manufacturing environments.

Brief Bio

Dr. Jeff Cotter has been working in solar photovoltaics for 25+ years, including research and development, tertiary education and high-volume manufacturing. For 5 years, he was Director of the technology deployment team at Sunpower Manufacturing Limited, in the Philippines, where he and his team introduced Sunpower's Gen II, 22.4% efficient silicon solar cell from pilot stage into full-scale manufacturing. The Gen II reached almost 1.5 GW of annual production in 2011. Before joining Sunpower, he was an Associate Professor at the University of New South Wales, where he was a co-founder of the School of Photovoltaics and Renewable Energy Engineering - the world's first undergraduate degree programs in Photovotaics and Renewable Energy. He is the author of the On-line Virtual World Solar Challenge Game, the On-line Virtual Survivor Sustainability Game, the RaySim technical ray-tracing program, the Virtual Solar Cell Factory Server Application and the Virtual Manufacturing Engineering System Client Application. He is also the author of the Virtual MES Workbook series of books on PV manufacturing science, technology and engineering. He currently serves the PV industry as a consultant on high-efficiency solar cells, high-volume manufacturing engineering and training for manufacturing engineers.

Click here to view this video with side-by-side slides.

Click here to download Jeff Cotter's slides in pdf format.