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PV Roadmap

Executive Summary

Make no mistake! Photovoltaic solar electricity can deliver and is delivering clean, reliable, on-demand power in current markets worldwide. And it has been a "power of choice" for consumers during our own domestic needs for critical electrical service. Yes, it is a significant player in the United States and in the world's long-term energy portfolio. But solar electricity delivers electrical power now and it can provide many more benefits.
Our challenge is to rapidly expand the U.S.-based photovoltaic (PV) industry's manufacturing capacity to meet growing demands. At the same time, we must significantly expand the domestic market to retain U.S.-based manufacturing plants and jobs.

To meet this challenge, we — the U.S.-based PV industry — have developed this roadmap as a guide for building our domestic industry, ensuring U.S. technology ownership, and implementing a sound commercialization strategy that will yield significant benefits at minimal cost. Putting the roadmap into action will call for reasonable and consistent co-investment by our industry and government in research and technology development. The energy security, environmental, and direct economic benefits will far exceed the investment. The benefits are immense, in both the near and long term, and are consistent with our nation developing a sound, secure energy strategy.

We emphasize that it is not our industry promise that photovoltaic technology will provide all our domestic electricity within the coming 20 to 30 years. However, PV will be a significant contributor within a portfolio of energy sources, with this roadmap laying out a course to meet those electricity needs when and where it makes economic and technical sense.

On the domestic front, our industry's goal is to meet 10% of U.S. peak generation capacity by 2030 — the energy equivalent of some 180 million barrels of oil in that year. By 2020, solar-electric power will be providing a significant share of new, added U.S. peak electricity generating capacity.

But why does this picture of the future make sense?

Generation of solar electricity coincides with the normal peak demand of customers. Additionally, photovoltaic energy does not pollute, uses a free and abundant fuel source, is controlled by the customer, can be located near the point of use, frees utility investment in distribution systems, slows the depletion of fossil fuels, and provides energy security and control.

Currently, solar electricity is not cost competitive with bulk, baseload power — but it does not have to be. Instead, it provides electricity when and where energy is most limited and most expensive — a highly valuable and tremendously strategic contribution. It does not simply replace some fraction of generation; rather, solar-electric power displaces the right portion of the load. Solar electricity mitigates the risk of fuel-price volatility and improves grid reliability, thus guaranteeing a more stable energy economy.

Electricity from PV technologies allows consumers to spend their own money on energy, giving them control over their own investment. It is a free-market commodity, involving a mix of both large and many small businesses — with customer choice underpinning success and growth.

What must be done by the shareholders — by us, the industry, and by our government partners — in this venture? This roadmap defines these roles.

In the near term

During the next 3 years, the solar-electric industry will deliver quality products and services into the marketplace at fair prices. The industry will emerge during this period. We will continue to build our manufacturing capacities to meet growing demands both in the United States and in the rest of the world. And we will continue to provide economic value — building toward our expectation of a $15 billion industry in 2020. Within 25 years, the industry expects to employ more than 150,000 Americans in high-value, high-tech jobs, which is about the size of the current glass industry.
To support these efforts, the government— at both the state and federal levels — needs to ensure a level playing field on which our solar-electric power industry may compete with other power players. It should also lower the barriers that hinder photovoltaics from being developed and deployed — something that can be done at little cost.

Government oversight and implementation is all that is required to bring about national net metering (equity in selling PV electricity to the grid at the utility retail rate), moderate residential tax credits at both the state and federal level, and manufacturing incentives (equity with other energy-product producers). We must work with the government to establish standards, codes, and certification, which are essential for consumer protection and acceptance. Government can also invest in delivering solar-electric power to its own facilities when and where it makes economic and technical sense — for example, in the areas of energy security, premium power, uninterruptible power sources, emergency shelters, and off-grid power systems.

In the mid term

During the period from 4 to 10 years, the major demands will fall on us, the industry, and on our partners in the private and public sectors. We will develop the needed technical products — whether for residential and commercial distributed generation or for architectural and building-integrated PV applications. Shares of our profits will be reinvested to ensure vitality and market growth. We will continue to grow our manufacturing capacities and the range of our product to meet consumer needs. Our impact on the supply of new electrical power in the United States will be significant, and this period will firmly establish PV technologies and the solar-electric industry.

Activities/ Roles of the Solar-Electric Industry and the

Near-Term (1-3 Years)
Mid-Term (4-10 Years)
Long-Term (11-20 Years)
Research and Development (Technical Issues)
Industry Role
  • Develop advanced PV production equipment
    Improve throughput of products in manufacturing processes
  • Enhance investment capital
  • Integrate R&D activities
  • Create manufacturing partnerships
  • Garner industry consensus and framework for Manufacturing Center of Excellence, and initiate operations
  • Develop prepackaged PV systems for reduced cost and improved reliability

  • Develop model for high-volume manufacturing
    Ensure steady flow of available silicon
  • Agree on common equipment standards
  • Research thin-film packaging
  • Develop technology (e.g., building-integrated PV, architectural glass)
  • Develop small-scale, standardized PV products for easy installation suitable for do-it-yourselfer market
  • Standardize PV systems for utility installation on utility grids
  • Complete fully operational Manufacturing Center of Excellence
  • Create new materials and devices with high efficiency and low cost
  • Develop quality assurance/quality control methods to test products on site
  • Expand operation of Manufacturing Center of Excellence in response to technology directions
Government Role
  • Increase R&D emphasis on manufacturing improvements
  • Expand the use of PV in government facilities where it makes economical/ technical sense
  • Continue PV R&D activities
  • Support Manufacturing Center of Excellence
  • Sponsor R&D to improve lifetime of PV modules and systems
  • Continue PV R&D activities
  • Continue support for Manufacturing Center of Excellence
  • Support basic research on materials for the next generations of solar-electric PV systems
  • Continue support for Manufacturing Center of Excellence
Market Opportunities (Market Issues)
Industry Role
  • Increase sales and marketing budgets
  • Invest in manufacturing capabilities to meet demand in USA and abroad
  • Support an independent, proactive industry association
  • Obtain long-term, low interest financing for PV
  • Build manufacturing capabilities
  • Develop business models, rules, and products for utility and power generator use of PV as peak shaving alternative
  • Foster robust domestic and international market for PV
Government Role
  • Establish moderate residential tax credits (state and federal)
    Create manufacturing incentives (equity with other energy-product producers)
  • Invest in PV for facilities owned and operated by government
  • Support retail competition, as well as customer options under traditional regulation, as opportunities for customer acquisition of PV
  • Invest in retail infrastructure distribution network
  • Continue outreach, training, and public awareness projects
  • Fully develop outreach, training, and public awareness training
  • Lobby for utility regulatory policies and practices that provide open and competitive market for PV
Policy and Institutional Initiatives (Institutional Issues)
Industry Role
  • Increase understanding and public awareness for business executives, federal and state policy makers, and consumers about solar electricity
  • Lobby for fair and equitable utility practices that allow solar electricity to compete on a level playing field
  • Support retail competition, as well as customer options under traditional regulation, as opportunities for customer acquisition of PV
  • Invest in retail infrastructure distribution network
  • Continue outreach, training, and public awareness projects
  • Fully develop outreach, training, and public awareness training
  • Lobby for utility regulatory policies and practices that provide open and competitive market for PV
Government Role
  • Adopt net metering in all 50 states
  • Adopt uniform interconnection standards in all 50 states
  • Establish fair and equitable utility business practices for PV, e.g., standby charges, customer retention fees
  • Support broad outreach aimed at business executives, state and federal policy makers, and consumers regarding solar electricity
  • Give credit for PV in "urban airshed" programs for offsetting emissions
  • Support national and international standards for PV products and components (e.g., ratings, verification tools)
  • Support PV infrastructure development (codes, standards, certification)
  • Establish environmental regulations that explicitly value clean energy solutions such as PV
  • Continue to develop regulatory and policy framework that supports PV
  • Support tax incentive structure that encourages development of clean energy

Over the long term

During the 20 years of this roadmap, we must work together with government to maintain, in some areas — or regain, in others — our technical and research leadership of solar-electric technologies, from the semiconductor devices themselves to the electronics that control and ensure the quality of electricity produced.
The industry will invest in R&D to make manufacturing lines more effective, improve production throughput, and bring manufacturing to a position of world leadership. The government is asked to continue a reasonable investment in the nation's intellectual and research resource at national laboratories, universities, and other research organizations. This investment will guarantee needed improvement in existing technologies and the development of new and better technologies. These next-generation photovoltaic devices and products are vital for meeting future energy needs and maintaining U.S. leadership.

Our roadmap will guide U.S. photovoltaic research, technology, manufacturing, applications, markets, and policy through 2020. However, its ultimate success — the significant growth of solar electricity — depends on the investments, guidance, and attention given to it now. Photovoltaic solar power can be a significant part of our electrical energy economy in the future. How significant it is — and who owns it — depends on setting our sights in the right direction — on the right road — today.

PV Roadmap

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