PV standards Roadmap Effort Confirms Major Cost Savings Available


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PV Standards Roadmap Effort Confirms Major Cost Savings Available

Applicable Standards Can Accelerate PV Development and Save Money

SEMI is set to release this month a PV Standards Roadmap Guidance Document that identifies over 64 existing SEMI standards and safety guidelines that are applicable to PV manufacturing. Thirty-one of these standards have significant cost-savings potential for the industry with little or no revision.

The Guidance Document was prepared by a Core Team of experts from equipment and materials manufacturers, cell makers, third parties, and other special interest groups. The findings are based on a high-level assessment of existing SEMI Standards and Safety Guidelines with respect to their applicability to PV manufacturing. Core Team members stated that it was critical to leverage existing approaches from related industries and bring solutions to a fast growing industry quickly. Available time and effort should be spent on issues unique to the PV manufacturing process, such as specifications and test methods for novel materials. The Guidance Document represents the completion of the first phase of a Global Photovoltaic Standards Roadmap designed to focus and prioritize industry standards efforts in high-value areas.

Background

At the first SEMI PV Group Photovoltaic Committee meeting in early September 2006, executives from the PV industry gathered together to discuss where SEMI could contribute most to the growth of the PV industry. One of the major elements mentioned was the need for industry standards at the manufacturing equipment and materials level. Dr. Ossenbrink, Unit Head Renewable Energies of the European Commission Joint Research Center, stated "Standards in photovoltaic are essential for the industry in order to lower trade barriers and to reduce the cost of ownership for cell and module manufacturers of their production facilities. Both elements are key to reach competitiveness of the photovoltaic industry in a global energy market."


In response to this industry need, SEMI PV Group Standards activities have gained strong momentum over the past two years with Standards Committees, Working Groups, Sub-Working Groups, and Task Forces established in Europe, North America and Asia. In consultation with those Committees, and under the oversight of PV Group Regional Advisory Committees, it was determined that a more forward-looking, anticipative look at technology advancements, research and development efforts and government policies was needed to guide global standards efforts in an efficient and expeditious manner.

SEMI PV Group Establishes the Core Team

In response to these discussions, in May 2008, the SEMI PV Group established a core team of volunteer experts representing all sectors of the industry and other special interests. The Core Team agreed to support the development of a global Standards Roadmap for photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing processes, from feedstock materials to finished cells and modules. The goals: to identify several high-priority areas where currently no standards exist, get significant work under way, and present a comprehensive update on Phase 2 by July 2009.

These regular updates to the industry are not only designed to communicate progress but to reach out and engage others to join the efforts. More participation from cell and module makers is needed, and the Core Team is looking for a more geographically diversified setup. The ultimate “roadmap” resulting from all these activities can only be successful and meaningful if it represents true consensus among stakeholders. It will be a living, breathing, changing document that is expected to provide immediate benefits to the entire PV manufacturing value chain. Much more work lies ahead.

Phase 1 Guidance Document

Phase 1 of the roadmap effort was a comprehensive analysis of existing SEMI standards and safety guidelines for the applicability to PV manufacturing, and an aggressive outreach effort to other standards developing organizations (SDOs) to coordinate and streamline industry standard activities. While more in-depth reviews of individual standards and safety guidelines need to occur, the Core Team is confident that the Phase 1 Guidance Document— by identifying “Applicable,” “Possibly Applicable” and “Top Priority” SEMI Standards for the PV industry— will expedite the standards development and deployment process by identifying and prioritizing high-value standard opportunities while leveraging existing, proven solutions for other areas..

The primary objective of the Guidance Document is to communicate to the large and diverse PV manufacturing community an approach to accelerate technology development and sustainable growth in the industry, as well as share information about existing solutions that can immediately be applied to the photovoltaic manufacturing process. In particular, the document provides initial suggestions of Standards development and deployment, with respect to:

  • Reducing manufacturing cost
  • Streamlining and improving the various elements of the manufacturing process
  • Mitigating risks for operating personnel, facilities and the environment
  • Creating a forward-looking approach to addressing technology advancements, taking into account R&D efforts, government policies and other factors
  • Collectively developing global, consensus-driven solutions positively influenced by industry stakeholders

Collaborative Initiatives

The Guidance Document further describes planned collaborative initiatives involving other Standards Developing Organizations (SDOs) such as ASTM International, IEEE and others, as well as the increasing participation of research laboratories like NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory in the U.S.) and the value of their contributions.

The PV Standards Roadmap Guidance Document will be announced by a SEMI press release and be available at www.pvgroup.org and www.semi.org on or before January 20.

January 6, 2009