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PV production costs to fall another 6% in 2014

The cost of producing polysilicon and wafers, key components of solar PV panels, will drop to 20 cents per watt next year – a six percent decline.

And PV wafer production costs – including both polysilicon manufacture and wafer processing – have fallen over 16 percent per year for the past five years.

These are the key findings of the latest Polysilicon and Wafer Supply Chain Quarterly report from NPD Solarbuzz, which analysed data from the top seven polysilicon producers as well as top wafer manufacturers.

“Wafer costs are only a third of what they were five years ago, and even though the rapid pace of cost reduction is starting to decline, the severe oversupply and extremely low selling prices are forcing polysilicon and wafer makers to continue to find ways to lower costs to previously assumed impossible levels,” said Charles Annis, vice president at NPD Solarbuzz.

credited_NPD Solarbuzz_Polysilicon and wafer costs

Credit: NPD Solarbuzz Polysilicon and Wafer Supply Chain Quarterly Nov 2013

The research firm credits this decline in cost – for polysilicon producers – to factors like increased productivity, using less power at production facilities, implementing new technologies and even relocating their plants to areas with lower electricity prices.

“At the same time, wafer makers are also reducing costs by increasing the multicrystalline ingot size from Gen 4/5 to Gen 6/7, reducing slurry consumption and increasing recycling, adopting diamond wire sawing for monocrystalline applications, and benefiting from rising conversion efficiencies as crystallization quality continues to improve,” added Annis.

According to NPD Solarbuzz, these lower production costs, coupled with strong demand, should “create a substantially more optimistic opportunity for best-of-class polysilicon and wafer makers in 2014.”


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