Following the webinar ‘What is the next step for CPV commercialization in the US', PV Insider got the thoughts of Lewis Fraas and Andy Skumanich on topics such as energy storage, cheap imports and the role of incentives.
During the webinar a number of questions were put to the speakers that could not get answered in the short time available. So Matt Carr, Global Events Director at PV Insider and webinar moderator, caught up with Lewis Fraas (President, JX Crystals) and Andy Skumanich (CEO and Founder, SolarVision Consulting) after the program to get some more answers, before all of the questions are resolved at the 3rd CPV Summit USA (14-15 November, San Jose, CA).
One of the most-asked questions related to the future of module and cell manufacturing in the US when there cheap export options are available to the industry. While Skumanich argued that "it is not likely that standard PV manufacturing is viable in the US", Fraas chose to emphasize the importance of innovation in order to compete, "with cheap standard silicon PV modules available as imports from China, the US potential module manufacturers will have to use technical innovations to offer a better product at a lower price".
When discussing incentives, Skumanich was adamant that "incentives are going away. CPV needs to rapidly demonstrate bankability, and also get the right partnerships for manufacturing. It needs to think creatively for manufacturing arrangements which can backup the possibility for demand. The only way to lure developers is to show lower LCOE without subsidies and have the data to give the confidence". Fraas argued that the US Government "is not really helping" CPV development. "There is a great opportunity here both for investment in evolutionary silicon based LCPV and more revolutionary HCPV. The US government is still pitching the need for fundamental R&D breakthroughs. The tax incentives lock in existing technology".
Skumanich argued that energy storage is an issue that goes beyond CPV, and even beyond solar. "Energy storage is critical for the PV industry and it is essential for broad acceptance of renewables. Utilities already write into contracts the option for them to "curtail" acceptance of any PV or wind inputs – which means that they can reject output from a solar or wind farm and not pay for the electricity. The ability to develop associated storage removes the need for the curtailment option and can allow PV and CPV to expand beyond just a few percent of the energy supply." Fraas believes that the emphasis should now be on the end-users to think about storage. "With time, electric cars will provide a path for energy storage; meanwhile, utilities should be investing in the technology. I have wondered about ultra-capacitors for short term energy storage for CPV."
Questions of CPV commercialization will be answered at the 3rd CPV Summit USA, and will create a roadmap to sure-fire market share. Fraas and Skumanich will be joined by over 30 speakers to discuss proving CPV viability, working closer with the utilities and end-users, understanding the perceptions surrounding CPV and commercializing the scientific potential to financial gain.
To read the full interviews with Skumanich and Fraas, and see the original webinar in full, go to http://www.pv-insider.com/cpv/webinar.shtml.