The present pandemic has shown the vulnerability of global manufacturing supply chains, where products are manufactured in one or very few large plants and shipped globally. Shutdowns in one region can cause transcontinental supply chains and distribution to come to a stop or become disrupted.
A recent article in Phys.org looked at “How to keep supply chains moving during a catastrophe“. Energy Storage News examined supply chain problems in some areas of energy storage and electric vehicles: “Coronavirus is bringing to light ‘cracks in US infrastructure and supply chain‘”.
The current dominant solar PV technology is traditional crystalline silicon (c-Si), which has a supply chain centered in east Asia:
PI Energy’s solar PV technology allows for far smaller manufacturing CAPEX (Capital Expenditures), enabling smaller regional plants that can better adapt to rapidly changing supply requirements while producing solar PV for a region with local supply chains and distribution. The capital equipment cost and material requirements are expected to be a fraction of the current market-dominant c-Si solar PV panels, while at the same time enabling new markets because of the combination of ultra-thin, lightweight, flexible, non-toxic, earth-abundant and low-cost materials.
Instead of a few clusters of PV module manufacturing, there might be many more. This would allow for more geographically distributed manufacturers, making the supply chains and distribution more resilient. This approach can also lower logistical costs. The distribution of PI Energy manufacturing could look more like this:
We are in the process of developing flexible, solar nanofilms that make it possible to install solar on almost any surface. Our product is different – we use materials that are low cost and easy to install, opening vast new untapped markets for clean energy.