Price trends in PV systems


The high cost of PV systems is the major bottelneck in large scale deployment of solar power. In recent years there has been a significant drop in the PV system prices. the typical PV system has about 45% cost as Modules, 40% cost as BoS and Installation, and 15% cost component as inverters. The cost of a typical PV system also depends on the system size, location, customer type, grid connection and pther technical specifications. For example, for building-integrated systems (BIPV), the cost of the system will vary significantly depending on whether the system is part of a retrofit or is integrated into a new building structure. Another factor that has been shown to have a significant effect on prices is the presence of a market stimulation measure, which can have dramatic effects on demand for equipment in the target sector. The installation of PV systems for grid connected applications is increasing yearly, however the grid-connected market must still depend upon government incentive programs. The installed cost of grid connected systems varies widely in price depending on national support programs and labor costs in country.

In last two years the cost of PV has come down to almost half the cost prevailing two years back. This was due the large demand of grid connected PV systems specially i  INdia created under the JNNSM. It appears that the downward trend on solar PV cost will still continue, due to economies of scale and new technology developments for low cost solar PV specially in the thin film technologies where the material cost is not that significant. Earlier the trends in the utility scale PV projects was to put up 5-10 MW size of projects, however not a days, investors are considering the sizes in the range of 25, 50 and 100 MW capacity at a single location.

Most of the investors are considering the thin film technology as their prefered choice due to low cost. Thin-film cells have many advantages over Crystaline solar technology. For example, they use much less material— the cell’s active area is usually only 1 to 10 micrometers thick, whereas Crystaline solar cells are  typically 100 to 300 micrometers thick.

Also, thin-film cells can usually be manufactured in a large area process  which can be an

automated, continuous production. Several different deposition techniques can be used, and all of them are potentially less expensive than the ingot-growth techniques required for crystalline silicon. Thin film photovoltaic solar cells represent the most promising technology for reducing the cost of solar electrical systems. This technology has the potential to provide low cost solar power by using non Silicon cells, low cost plastic substrates and through currently available, high volume and inexpensive manufacturing techniques.

The promise of thin film photovoltaics has always been evident. The promise of solar nanotechnology has recently received significant attention. But neither of these technologies has yet to become a major player in the global market. With global silicon constraints driving an intensive search for alternatives, the day of thin film and/or nanotechnology may have finally come. One of the leading technology companies, DayStar, commercially sells non-silicon thin film Copper Indium Gallium diSelenide (CIGS) cells that are deposited, rather than printed, on a stainless foil.

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