Arthur D. LittleArthur D. Little

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Emerging technologies in Solar

Emerging technologies in Solar

Traversing the PV lab-to-fab “valleys of death”

The rapidly declining unit cost of silicon-based photovoltaic (PV) cells over the past four decades has facilitated the advent of PV as a commercially viable energy source. However, emerging PV technologies currently in development show the potential to disrupt and replace the dominant market incumbent crystalline silicon (c-Si) technology in the future.

These technologies have been used to record cell efficiencies more than three times that of typical commercial c-Si PV, and have growing academic and financial sponsorship and the prospect of value-creating cross-applicability and complementarity between materials and technology. The question now is whether the longterm viability of c-Si as the market leader has a time limit in the face of these emerging challengers. In this article we survey the materials and technologies we think have the most potential to disrupt the PV market in the coming decade. We identify our top three potential disruptors as: perovskite, quantum-dot photovoltaics, and concentrated photovoltaics. Further, we present the policy implications of our analysis and conclude that a winning combination of financial muscle and an enlightened, patient, long-term view in which concerned actors do not cave into external demands for short-term returns are the key prerequisites for the future major sponsors of emerging PV technology. The onus is on the potential sponsors possessing these qualifications to step in and deliver the support required for these fledgling technologies, which have the potential to revolutionize the renewable energy game with sufficient backing, but may go undeveloped in the absence of this. Developing effective methods of sourcing and allocating funding is also imperative. In short, the challenge of future sponsors will be to ensure these technologies do not fall prey to the lab-to-fab "valleys of death" that have endangered promising PV technologies in the past.

Released: December 2015

Download File ADL-Renewable-Energy-Emerging-PV-Technology.pdf (.PDF, 984 Kb)

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