The United States Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative has awarded $3 million to San Jose-based solar energy company Siva Power, for its low-cost solar manufacturing technology and processes. The aim of the SunShot Initiative is to make solar energy cost-competitive with conventional energy sources by 2020. The DOE’s $3 million award will go towards developing and demonstrating a CIGS co-evaporation source with 12x higher manufacturing throughput (m2/min) than currently available sources. The company expects that the 12x throughput would enable a fully automated CIGS deposition system with 3x reduction in capex, labor, and overhead costs per watt. Furthermore, Siva Power says that this economical CIGS system along with other high-speed tools will allow the company to build the world’s largest CIGS production line, at 300MW.
The SunShot program hopes to reduce the average selling price of solar panels to under $0.50 per watt by 2020. By comparison, some chinese manufacturers sell solar modules as low as $.70 per watt. Siva Power plans to build a production line with manufacturing costs of $0.40/watt within the first year of operation, and the company hopes to achieve $0.28/watt for its manufacturing cost two years after that. At this cost, the company could profitably and sustainably sell solar panels for less than the $0.50/watt that are manufactured in the United States.