Lidija Sekaric, the Technology to Market Programme Manager at the DOE SunShot Initiative
“We really believe that we cannot always predict innovation and we don't want to limit the community in our funds to only some sectors, both in the R&D space and the manufacturing space. By setting the economic targets, we let the community innovate.”--Lidija Sekaric
Q: Does SunShot have any funding coming up for CPV?
A: SunShot is a technology agnostic programme and we enable a range of solar technologies in driving down the cost in order to penetrate the market for electricity generation.
Our programmes almost never call out specific technologies in our funding opportunities. SunShot sets the targets for cost and performance and usually extend it to any and all technologies. We really believe that we cannot always predict innovation and we don't want to limit the community in our funds to only some sectors, both in the R&D space and the manufacturing space. By setting the economic targets, we let the community innovate.
The SunShot goal for all these technologies is getting to six cents a kilowatt hour, and we are pretty relentless about saying that any technology that we want to support needs to have certain economics.
Q: Do you see CPV winning or losing as PV takes a larger share of the electricity market?
A: We believe that as the solar market grows - and we do see a continued annual growth rate that is probably among the largest of all industries out there in general - there’s going to be a share of that market that can be countered by CPV as part of that overall solar market growth.
With the overall market growth, we believe there is a perspective for CPV to grow as well. But whether it will become significant enough that it will get to the scale of manufacturing that might rival some other industries is something that I really cannot guess.
We have definitely seen enormous progress in CPV overall. We have seen the reduction of PV cost over 50% in the last few years and an enormous market growth and so accordingly we will continue to see a reduction in cost in both flat-plate PV and CPV.
Q: How does the CPV market different from PV?
A: CPV technology does require slightly different conditions to operate because it does require dual axis tracking and high Direct Normal Incidence (DNI); very sunny, clear areas and thus within that particular operational constraint, the technology is suitable for a subset of geographic regions.
The general growth of CPV will probably take a share of a part of that market, but that market consists of only a subset of geographies.
Within the projects themselves, there's a pretty wide range of values in cost.
The range of cost values that we are looking at right now, for CPV - and CSP - probably are a little bit wider than PV because there aren't as many projects. Whereas there is a very large number of PV projects out there and it is a little bit easier to look at the system costs uniformly.
Q: Do you think CPV can get to your six cents goal by 2020?
A: There is a diversity in the technologies and the pace of learning among each of those and so it is definitely a case-by-case basis - as an example we may not have the same production efficiencies across all the different PV technologies and we have to have a different calculation for both the scale that is needed and the deployment that is needed to bring down the cost.
I can’t speculate about how fast the industry will introduce some of the R&D achievements that may go from the lab and into the module in the field. For example, there has been progress in reducing installation costs: by deploying large modules, by optimising the optics, by increasing the efficiency of the cell, and some of those things we have in fact funded through our primary R&D programme.
SunShot has funded the majority of record efficiencies in the cell space across technologies so there is continuous progress. When it comes to the actual diversity of technologies then we are really counting on the market to support solutions that will get to the SunShot goal.
We have not at this point ruled out the technologies that are needed in the marketplace as being able to reach six cents a kilowatt hour by 2020. In fact, while we are confident that we will get to that point by then, but some technolo