Solar photovoltaic production costs to fall to 36 cents per watt by 2017

Production costs for Chinese crystalline-silicon (c-Si) photovoltaic module manufacturers — such as Jinko Solar, Renesola, Trina Solar and Yingli Green Energy — will fall from 50 cents per watt in the fourth quarter of 2012 to 36 cents per watt by the end of 2017, according to a new report from GTM Research.

GTM predicts the majority of these cost declines to derive from technology innovations such as diamond wire sawing for solar photovoltaic wafers, advanced metallization solutions and increased automation in place of manual labor.

While precipitous cost declines— roughly 70 cents per watt— from 2010 to 2012 were made possible by cutthroat pricing and margin erosion in the polysilicon and PV materials markets, the report sees cost reduction drivers migrating in-house for wafer, cell, and module suppliers, as adoption of advanced technology platforms and manufacturing automation will account for 80 percent of the forecasted declines.

"Yesterday's PV cost reduction roadmaps are no longer relevant today," said Shyam Mehta, Senior Analyst at GTM Research and the report's author. "Three or four years ago, the industry was targeting one dollar per watt costs in 2013; today we are at 50 cents per watt, and there is currently little consensus on what is a realistic goal for the module supply chain to set for itself over the next three to five years. This is not only important for these manufacturers and their investors, but for installers and project developers across the globe."

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