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Golden, Colo., Jan. 20, 2000 - Americans want clean solar electricity. The U.S. photovoltaics industry wants them to have it. Solar-cell manufacturers and suppliers see photovoltaics (PV) producing at least 15 percent of the additional electrical power the United States will need in 2020.
But how will the industry bring down costs, overcome market barriers, increase production and accelerate research and development? The recently released Report of the PV Industry Roadmap Workshop provides a guide.
The report outlines goals and strategies for industry and its R&D partners through 2020. A more detailed roadmap will develop in months to come, with the final results providing a blueprint of research, technology, and market strategies.
The National Center for Photovoltaics (NCPV), which conducts research and development for the U.S. Department of Energy's Photovoltaics Program, coordinated the roadmapping effort. NCPV Director Lawrence Kazmerski of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory applauded the roadmap. "By setting these priorities, the PV industry can work toward a common destination: clean, renewable solar power taking its proper and requisite place in America's energy picture," he said.
The PV industry's mapmakers agreed to this vision statement: "To provide the electrical/energy consumer with competitive and environmentally friendly energy products and services from a thriving United States-based solar-electric power industry."
For that vision to be realized, the roadmap will detail four major goals:
Allen Barnett, president of PV manufacturer AstroPower, Inc. of Newark, Del., stresses the importance of a substantial domestic market. Most of the industry's markets now are outside the United States. And, the U.S. PV industry, the world's leader in research, technology and manufacturing, faces strong competition from Europe and Japan.
"The fastest growing market segment is for applications that connect directly into the electricity grid in Europe and Japan," Barnett said.
"The driver in Europe is concern for the environment. The will of the people has been translated into favorable government policy. In Japan, the driver is concern for the environment and energy independence."
Barnett, a member of the NCPV Advisory Board and PV Roadmap Steering Committee, emphasized that utility deregulation provides an opportunity to create solid demand at home.
The potential of photovoltaics to make a significant impact on Americans' lives depends on the PV industry becoming attractive to investors, Barnett said. A history of steady technology improvements and industry growth of 15-20 percent a year is a good start, he said. The roadmap calls for 25 percent yearly growth over the next 20 years. At that rate, the industry will approach $10 billion a year, creating tens of thousands of jobs and enormous environmental benefits.
The Report of the PV Technology Roadmap Workshop is available online at and can be ordered via e-mail from firstname.lastname@example.org. The National Center for Photovoltaics includes researchers and engineers from the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo., and Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M. Members of the NCPV Advisory Board and industry roadmap steering committee are Barnett; Larry Crowley of Energy Business Strategies (formerly with Idaho Power); Chester Farris of Siemens Solar Industries; Harvey Forest, formerly of BP Solarex; Lionel Kimerling of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Roger Little of Spire Corporation; William Roppenecker of Trace Engineering; and Richard Schwartz of Purdue University.
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