FRANCE: Yole Developpement has released an exclusive cost simulation tool for the Photovoltaic industry. This tool is a virtual fab where every manufacturing steps, equipment and materials can be defined. Using its experience in the PV domain, Yole Développement has implemented the main existing equipment and materials in the software.
Status of the PV industry
For several years now, the French consulting company Yole Développement tracks Photovoltaic market’s development. Indeed with its marketing & technological background, Yole analyses this industry including business aspects and high-tech added value.
In 2008, the photovoltaic industry landscape has considerably changed. For example, a large number of companies invested into polysilicon manufacturing established players Hemlock, MEMC… Wafer manufacturers, LDK, PV Crystalox… but also new entrants such as DC Chemical, Hoku… Yole also observed how the entrance of Applied Materials, Oerlikon Solar and Ulvac impacted on a-Si based modules production capacity.
In 2008, after several years of development, it is clear that the PV industry is at the maturity level and has its own identity: PV value chain, specific technologies, high-tech systems and key players.
“The most important objective for today’s photovoltaic (PV) market is to reduce the ratio of manufacturing cost to power output, and more specifically for solar modules, the manufacturing cost per kWh”, explains Gaetan Rull, Technology & Market Analyst at Yole.
With this in mind, technical solutions are required to reach grid parity and make PV a competitive energy source. Most of PV players, equipment and materials suppliers understood this fact and so are now partnering with cell manufacturers to cut cost/kWh down together.
Indeed, cost reduction solutions could come from various industry, semiconductor, display, printing and glass.
This cost/kWh ratio can be obtained through different ways:
* Optimization and standardization of processes in order to lower production cost down.
* Increase of performances and so produce more kWh with the same amount of money.
This tool can simulate every of those possibilities.
A dedicated cost simulation tool
In this context, the French company, Yole Développement has developed a solar virtual fab, “PV Cost Simulation Tool”, to follow every PV manufacturing steps cost.
Including numerous factors, equipment, materials, process …. It allows PV manufacturers to define specific equipment or materials and integrate them in a manufacturing process. By using this interface, they are able to measure the added value generated by an innovative concept. Inkjet, electroplating, ion implantation, printing for example… all kind of innovative manufacturing solution (with associate materials) can be simulated.
Typical results can be:
* Cost estimation with breakdown (labor, material, CapEx…),
* Technology comparison,
* Return on investment of a fab.
Furthermore, users of “PV Cost Simulation Tool” have the possibility to create their own flow chart.
Every step in the manufacturing process can be modified, added or deleted. In its tool, characteristics of all equipment and materials can be also modified. Users have the possibility to create new ones and include it in the manufacturing process.
Another feature allows material and equipment suppliers to simulate their own products and measure the impact in a virtual process flow. Innovative manufacturing solutions can be modeled and instantly simulate the consequences on cost and return on investment.