Roadmap charts future of thriving domestic solar PV manufacturing industry

The roadmap, fruit of an ARENA funded study by the Australian Photovoltaic Institute (APVI), encompasses the entire solar PV supply chain, from raw material processing to module manufacturing.

Solar panel generic

An industry roadmap released today, titled 'Silicon to Solar,' was developed through a study project led by the Australian Photovoltaic Institute (APVI) in collaboration with Deloitte and key stakeholders.

Principal industry players, including The Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics (ACAP), AGL, Aspiradac, Energus, Siemens, SunDrive, Tindo Solar, and 5B, collaborated on this initiative, providing valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities at each stage of the supply chain.

The four critical steps analysed in the roadmap include polysilicon production, ingots and wafers production, solar cells manufacturing, and module manufacturing. Despite challenges, the roadmap shows that Australia could successfully take part in each stage, particularly focusing on crystalline silicon solar cells.

Although a significant contributor to solar PV research and development (R&D) and a major market for solar PV, Australia currently lacks substantial domestic manufacturing capabilities, relying on external markets for a supply of low-cost solar PV modules. With an annual solar PV installation rate of around 5 GW, ensuring reliable and diversified sources of supply becomes crucial for Australia's energy transformation.

As Australia accelerates its solar PV installations, supporting a reliable and diversified supply chain is essential. By actively taking part in global supply chains, Australia aims to reduce potential risks to its energy transformation and contribute significantly to the world's net-zero ambitions.

According to ARENA CEO Darren Miller, the 'Silicon to Solar' Roadmap supplies a sharp vision for Australia to play a vital role as a manufacturer of innovative solar technology across the entire supply chain.

“Australia has already demonstrated its capacity to manufacture advanced technology in other sectors. Solar PV represents an enormous opportunity to apply our skills to a sector that will play a critical role in Australia’s clean energy economy," Miller said.

“A number of Australian companies have already stated their ambitions to develop local manufacturing of solar PV at scale, and ‘Silicon to Solar’ illuminates the policy and investment pathway to make these bold plans a reality”.

ARENA has played a pivotal role in driving down the cost of renewable electricity in Australia. The agency's investments in large-scale solar farms since 2016 have resulted in a substantial decrease in the cost of solar electricity, from AUD $140-178/MWh to as low as AUD $50/MWh today.

Looking towards the future, ARENA envisions ultra low-cost solar as a key driver for Australia's renewable energy transition. The agency recently released a white paper outlining the potential of ultra low-cost solar and introduced a 30-30-30 vision—aiming for 30% solar module efficiency and an installed cost of 30 cents per watt by 2030.

Leveraging Australia's superior solar irradiance resources and world-leading solar PV R&D capabilities, ultra low-cost solar holds the promise of unlocking significant long-term economic potential for the nation.

To read more about the study, go to the project page here.

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