Silevo solar cell makers reveal product with best-ever claims

Oct 13, 2011 by Nancy Owano report

(PhysOrg.com) -- Silevo, the Fremont, California, photovoltaic solar module manufacturers, yesterday stepped forward to talk all about their technology for the first time and to say that it offers the best performance-to-cost ratio for solar modules in the industry, thanks to their groundbreaking new design.

That technology represents a rethink in conventional solar cell design, and transforms it into a powerhouse that can yield more energy. Using the company’s proprietary Triex technology, the result is what is being called a hybrid module because it is an artful combination of three materials: crystalline silicon N-type substrates, thin-film passivation layers, and a tunneling oxide layer

These materials enable the Triex module to deliver high efficiency, competitive module costs and an optimal energy harvest, the company said.

"Until now, the solar industry has not had a module that optimizes both performance and cost at a ratio that creates optimal levelized cost of electricity (LCOE),” said Dr. Zheng Xu, founder and CEO.

The company is being praised for rethinking conventional , at a time when costs and performance need to be more closely aligned. While the technological details are complex, the aggressive wish list at Silevo is easy enough to understand and accept—implement low-cost operations to produce a unique technology in order to advance a PV market into a self-sustaining future.

One of the Silevo cost-preserving feats is its design of cells that make use of copper rather than silver, as silver pastes have been reported to be the second-highest-priced material in a module after silicon itself.

Silevo is taking an aggressive growth path in bringing its technology forward, with plans to maintain its research facility in Fremont and to build a manufacturing plant in Hangzhou, China.

Silevo recently closed $33 million in financing from investors, and the money is being used to build the facility in China, as well as to drive further research at its California site.

Silevo says it is currently producing modules in pilot production, manufacturing Triex cells that demonstrate between 20% and 21% conversion efficiency on full-size substrates. Customer qualification samples have begun shipping. In the first half of 2012, high-volume commercial production will begin.

Silevo’s announcement is conveniently timed, since, in just days, the Solar Power International 2011 is to open its doors, from October 17 through October 20, in Dallas. That event is where professionals get to network and, as the event site suggests, to generate "powerful new ideas" and business for the solar industry.

Explore further: Dismantling Germany's nuclear industry, piece by piece

More information: http://silevosolar.com/ , press release

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Aliensarethere
4.2 / 5 (5) Oct 13, 2011
Cost per Watt ?
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Oct 13, 2011
The link to their website has a couple of numbers:

For a 30MW plant they state a manufacturing cost of 1.10$ per Watt (peak).
Mid term goal is manufacturing cost of less than 0.70$ per Watt (peak) by 2014.
dschlink
not rated yet Oct 13, 2011
What needs to be addressed now is the installation cost. I was quoted $5.50 USD per watt. I realize that every home is different, but five times the hardware cost?

Had a metal roof put on last winter and the labor to remove the old roofing, repairs as needed, and installation of the new roofing was less than the cost of the materials.
Cynical1
not rated yet Oct 13, 2011
dsch - what about FUTURE costs of repair and replacement? Was thaty included in your considerations?
Eikka
not rated yet Oct 13, 2011
The installation cost may be calculated differently, using the Cp of the solar panel instead of its peak power, and subtracting the system losses.

For example, the Cp for a fixed rooftop installation is somewhere between .1 and .2 or higher if you're close to the equator. That means the real cost per watt of the panel approaches from $5.50 to $11 per Watt produced, and for a return of investment projected at 10 years would net you an electricity price between 6 - 12 cents a kilowatt-hour.

After that, you need to figure in the conversion, buffering and transmission.
SteveL
not rated yet Oct 13, 2011
Part of the reason the installation and maintenance costs are so high is due to the shortage of certified installers. In that market there is far more demand than supply and most areas require certified installers, either for the building permit or the tax qualifications.
Eikka
not rated yet Oct 13, 2011
Of course, it's easy to botch up the installation by getting shade over the panels, or placing them directly on the roof where they overheat etc. etc.

The average Cp for the government subsidized photovoltaics in Germany is approximately .07 because they give out such ample subsidies that people don't really care how or where they slap the panels or whether it really makes any sense at all.
El_Nose
not rated yet Oct 13, 2011
maintenance on SP should be low as effeciency only typically drop 15% over 10 years
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Oct 13, 2011
but five times the hardware cost?

The hardware cost is for solar power plants - not rooftop installations. Also note that they quote manufacturing costs - which means the costs without any profit/installation.

Hardware/materials for products are always WAY cheaper than labor (or other costs like storage, transport, taxes, ... for example your average can of coke contains 1.5 cents worth of coke and about 11 cents worth of metal...the rest is marketing, taxes, overhead, transport and profits)
unknownorgin
not rated yet Oct 13, 2011
And of course china will have the technology and the jobs too! What is wrong with this picture?
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Oct 14, 2011
And of course china will have the technology and the jobs too! What is wrong with this picture?

Nothing. Chinese people want to work / earn a living, too.