Our Research

Research Thrusts

The BAPVC research agenda emphasizes technologies which provide high photovoltaic conversion efficiencies with low production cost. Increased efficiency is the most direct path to extracting greater value from all of the components of a PV system. The challenge is to develop technologies that capture efficiency gains without increasing production costs. The BAPVC takes a whole‚Äźmodule approach including the following research thrusts:

  1. High performance and multijunction cells
  2. Photon management and transparent conductors
  3. Silicon absorbers and cells
  4. Thin film absorbers and cells
  5. Encapsulation and reliability

Innovation will be required in every component of a solar cell module in order to achieve a module price of $0.50 per watt. While the solutions may be revolutionary, they must also be timely—technologies that can be put to use in the near term. We are looking for innovative technologies which can be transferred to industry within a three to five year time frame.

National Perspective

Research supporting the SunShot goals expects to deliver dramatic and potentially disruptive innovation, as these targets aim to reduce the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) generated by the sun by 75% within the decade. BAPVC is a part of the Photovoltaic Manufacturing Initiative (PVMI) with the goal of establishing the U.S. as a leading manufacturing base for PV technology across the entire PV supply chain. Projects across the government and private sectors at the Federal, State and local levels will deliver a coordinated effort to accelerate deployment of solar-electric systems in the US. As a leading global consumer of electric power, it must follow that the U.S. will become a leading global consumer of solar generated electric power. A large domestic PV market is an essential step toward establishing domestic manufacturing capacity to fulfill the market.

In a similar fashion, concerted efforts are underway to reduce barriers to manufacturing in the U.S. The cost and time for permitting factories, construction, cost-of-capital, cost-of-labor, uncertainty in government incentives for manufacturing all contribute to a challenging environment for manufacturing in the U.S., with PV manufacturing serving as a particularly sensitive case due to reliance on additional incentives to sustain its markets.

The technology targets of the SunShot Goals and of the PVMI mitigate much of the uncertainty in where manufacturing should be located. If modules are to be delivered to U.S. installations for a price of $0.50 per watt, manufacturers cannot afford to incur 10 to 20% of that price in shipping costs. Leading manufacturers will have established U.S. manufacturing and will only need to focus on expanding capacity within the U.S.