Initial manufacturing costs are competitive with today’s c-Si cost leaders . In order for Silevo to offer the industry’s best value, Silevo couples high efficiency performance with a simple, straightforward manufacturing process, a low capital intensity equipment set and efficient operational plan to enable low production costs.
Silevo’s Asia-based manufacturing center drives down factory costs and enables access to a robust low cost source of direct materials. Production proven equipment is leveraged from the semiconductor and LCD flat panel display industries, with proprietary modifications done by Silevo to optimize performance and productivity.
Increased Poly Silicon Capacity
While the limited capacity of poly silicon was an enormous added cost to early crystalline silicon (c-Si) module manufacturers, the recent increase in worldwide supply of good quality poly silicon (capacity of >40GW of poly estimated to be available in 2012) is continuing to drive down the cost of c-Si technology. When combined with the new technologies that have driven manufacturing costs of poly silicon to below $20/kg, the era of a cost effective c-Si technology has emerged. Silevo leverages this recent trend of lower polysilicon costs to produce high performance products which help significantly reduce the other costs of PV installations.
Rising Silver Costs
In 2011, silver emerged as the new supply chain risk for the traditional c-Si device manufacturers that use it for metal electrodes. The price of silver has more than doubled in the past year, and usage in industrial applications significantly increased in the past decade with forecasts of consumption increases by 5x over the next decade (Figure 3 – right). Because silver is a precious metal with limited capacity, analysts forecast the cost will only continue to rise and estimate the cost impact of silver in traditional c-Si paste formulations is between $0.06 to $0.08/Wp in manufacturing. Those numbers correlate with historical average spot prices in the range of $20oz. However, with spot prices increasing to more than $40/oz, the cost estimates of silver’s component in manufacturing costs may double to $0.12—0.16/Wp.
“Silver-Free” – Silevo’s Low Cost Advantage
Silevo has developed a proprietary metallization scheme that leverages electroplated copper (used in the PCB industry) to enable production immune to the growing silver supply chain constraint. With an executive team that was instrumental in transitioning the semiconductor industry to copper-based interconnects, Silevo is applying this same know-how of depositing a critical copper barrier and seed layer to reliably implement copper in a solar device. Silevo’s copper-based metallization scheme greatly reduces production costs compared to silver, and also offers significant technology advantages by allowing a low resistivity electrode scheme to scale as efficiencies improve.