Experience Scaling Up Manufacturing of Emerging Photovoltaic Technologies

Robert Margolis, Robert Margolis (NREL Technical Monitor)

Research output: NRELSubcontract Report


This report examines two important generic photovoltaic technologies at particularly revealing stages of development, i.e., the stages between R&D and stable commercial production and profitable sales. Based on two historical cases, it attempts to shed light on the difference between: 1) costs and schedules validated by actual manufacturing and market experience, and 2) estimated costs andschedules that rely on technology forecasts and engineering estimates. The amorphous Silicon case also identifies some of the costs that are incurred in meeting specific market requirements, while the Cadmium Telluride case identifies many of the operational challenges involved in transferring R&D results to production. The transition between R&D and commercial success takes a great deal of timeand money for emerging energy conversion technologies in general. The experience reported here can be instructive to those managing comparable efforts, and to their investors. It can also be instructive to R&D managers responsible for positioning such new technologies for commercial success.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages59
StatePublished - 2007

Bibliographical note

Work performed by En-Strat Associates, Darnestown, Maryland, and DES Associates, Warrington, Pennsylvania

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/SR-640-39165


  • apollo technology
  • BP Solar
  • cadmium telluride (CdTe) photovoltaic solar cells modules
  • large-scale manufacturing
  • photovoltaics (PV)
  • solar technologies
  • tandem amorphous silicon
  • technology
  • thin film


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