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Focus on what matters

Our cost models can have 100 or more variables, but typically only a handful of these account for 80% of more of the overall cost. We focus relentlessly on the cost pareto; we identify which cost items matter most and make sure we model and monitor these accurately, and frequently. For example, in a battery cell the cathode can account for more than one-half of the total cell cost; an error of 10% here would impact our total cost estimate by 5%, more than the total cost of many cell components.

System-level analysis

Where possible, we analyse our sectors in a broad context. This allows us to generate insights that would not be possible if we were to analyse the sector in isolation. For example, in power electronics the relatively high cost of silicon carbide (SiC) devices in traction inverters can be more than offset by the savings on expensive battery packs that are obtained by the improvements SiC brings to vehicle powertrain efficiency.

Focus on manufacturing cost, not price

In the short term, the price of materials, components and systems can fluctuate wildly due to supply-demand effects. But in the longer term, the price of almost all technologies regresses to “cost-plus”. With this in mind, Exawatt focuses on cost fundamentals. For example, PV module manufacturing costs are highly susceptible to variations in the price of a key material, polysilicon. By tracking the polysilicon supply chain in detail and accurately modelling material, energy, labour and depreciation costs, Exawatt is able to forecast long-term cost and pricing of polysilicon and PV modules more generally.

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