Economics of Future Growth in Photovoltaics Manufacturing: NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory)

Tonio Buonassisi, Donald Chung

Research output: NRELPresentation


The past decade's record of growth in the photovoltaic manufacturing industry indicates that global investment in manufacturing capacity for photovoltaic modules tends to increase in proportion to the size of the industry. The slope of this proportionality determines how fast the industry will grow in the future. Two key parameters determine this slope. One is the annual global investment in manufacturing capacity normalized to the manufacturing capacity for the previous year (capacity-normalized capital investment rate, CapIR, units $/W). The other is how much capital investment is required for each watt of annual manufacturing capacity, normalized to the service life of the assets (capacity-normalized capital demand rate, CapDR, units $/W). If these two parameters remain unchanged from the values they have held for the past few years, global manufacturing capacity will peak in the next few years and then decline. However, it only takes a small improvement in CapIR to ensure future growth in photovoltaics. Any accompanying improvement in CapDR will accelerate that growth.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages15
StatePublished - 2015

Publication series

NamePresented at the 42nd IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference, 14-19 June 2015, New Orleans, Louisiana

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-5J00-64487


  • Capex
  • manufacturing
  • photovoltaics (PV)


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