Automating Solar Manufacturing: Taking Advantage of Lessons Learned
Solar Energy and Grid Parity
There’s no doubt that the solar photovoltaic (PV) industry is hot. According to Solarbuzz, LLC an international solar energy research and consulting company, world solar photovoltaic (PV) market installations reached a record high of 2,826 megawatts (MW) in 2007, representing a growth of 62% over the previous year.
World solar cell production reached a consolidated figure of 3,436 MW in 2007, up from 2,204 MW a year earlier. The PV industry raised nearly $10 billion in 2007 and generated $17.2 billion in global revenues in 2007. The U.S. has set 2015 as the goal to reach grid parity (that point where solar electricity is equal to grid electricity) while other nations predict reaching it as soon as 2010. Regardless of that, it’s clear there will be an exploding demand for PV electricity in the near future.
Top manufacturing executives in the solar industry are challenged to find the most effective tools and processes to gain more productivity and decrease costs within a set budget. This article addresses how the use of automation within this new industry can provide these top executives with the key components to maximise factory throughput, drive down costs and improve efficiencies.
Introduction Stage and Lessons Learned
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As an industry considered to be in the introduction stage of its life cycle, its manufacturers are now contemplating the next critical steps in their production processes to remain competitive and prepare for this demand. As stated above the key for these manufacturers will be driving down costs, maximising factory throughput and improving efficiencies. Automating solar processes will be the solar manufacturer’s first line of attack to accomplish this.