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Bob Wallace

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Solar prices falling faster than the ice is melting.
« on: April 20, 2013, 07:02:52 AM »
Spain has just approved a 250 MW solar farm which is expected to cost  about €270 million.

That's roughly $1.40/watt of installed solar.  No subsidies.  It should produce electricity at approximately $0.06/kWh.  Utility solar in the US has hit the $0.10/kWh level, this is a very big drop lower.

If this holds it will make solar one of our three cheapest ways to bring new capacity on line, with wind and natural gas the others.  It will make it very feasible to speed the abandonment of coal and should greatly cut our need for NG fill-in.

We can increase the manufacturing rate of solar very quickly and training new installers is a rather minor undertaking. 

http://cleantechnica.com/2013/04/19/new-250-mw-solar-pv-plant-being-planned-for-western-spain/

Neven

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Re: Solar prices falling faster than the ice is melting.
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2013, 09:47:41 AM »
Bob, do you think solar will stay this cheap, now that one of the biggest Chinese manufacturers has gone bankrupt?
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Jim Hunt

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Re: Solar prices falling faster than the ice is melting.
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2013, 03:00:06 PM »
Hi Bob,

Are you aware of the PV import tariffs in the Good Ol' U S of A, and proposed over here in the EU?

http://econnexus.org/what-will-the-arctic-resemble-in-2050/#Tariffs

I discussed the issue with Jonathon Porrit at TEDxExeter last week. I asked him why he hadn't mentioned it in his presentation. He told me he didn't want to depress his audience. He also thought Germany were keen to "protect" their own renewable energy businesses.
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ghoti

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Re: Solar prices falling faster than the ice is melting.
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2013, 06:02:13 PM »
Right now the price for the panels themselves is no longer the biggest part of the cost of installing PV. This is especially true for small residential installations. (He says as he waits for quotes for rooftop PV)

Bob Wallace

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Re: Solar prices falling faster than the ice is melting.
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2013, 07:17:06 PM »
Bob, do you think solar will stay this cheap, now that one of the biggest Chinese manufacturers has gone bankrupt?

Solar panel prices are likely to bounce around a little bit for a while and then start their way toward cheaper.  The panel industry has reached a stage that most industries reach when the profit margin shrinks and the least efficient producers are forced out of business. 

Right now manufacturers are selling at little or no profit in order to keep product moving.  Some are probably selling at a loss either in an attempt to stay in business or at least recoup some of their investment as they go under.

But there's still room for panel manufacturing prices to go lower.  I think it was First Solar who stated that they expect their manufacturing costs to go below $0.40/watt by 2017.  (I'll try to find that and post.)

As the surviving manufacturers increase volume they can spread costs over more units and further lower per watt costs.  Apparently there is more advanced machinery waiting to be installed which will also drop costs.

Then, as panel efficiency increases prices can drop.  If you start making 20% efficient panels in place of 18% panels you pack more watts into the same amount of frame, glass cover, connection box, labor and shipping.

Only a short time ago panel prices were the largest part of a system.  That rapidly changed over the last ~3 years.  Now panels are selling around $0.60/watt.  If you look at Germany's average installed system price of $2/W you can see that panels have moved from >50% of system price to ~25%.

Now Spain has apparently figured out how to cut the balance of system (BOS) prices even further.

I don't see either panel or BOS prices rising.  I think we're about to see an explosion in solar installations and economies of scale will take prices even lower.

Bob Wallace

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Re: Solar prices falling faster than the ice is melting.
« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2013, 07:19:50 PM »
Hi Bob,

Are you aware of the PV import tariffs in the Good Ol' U S of A, and proposed over here in the EU?

http://econnexus.org/what-will-the-arctic-resemble-in-2050/#Tariffs

I discussed the issue with Jonathon Porrit at TEDxExeter last week. I asked him why he hadn't mentioned it in his presentation. He told me he didn't want to depress his audience. He also thought Germany were keen to "protect" their own renewable energy businesses.

Yes.  But I think them unimportant. 

The actual cost of manufacturing panels is low enough.  Banning "dumped at less than cost" panels isn't going to hurt the market.

The effort needed in the US right now is the BOS part of solar, not panel price. 

Bob Wallace

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Re: Solar prices falling faster than the ice is melting.
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2013, 07:32:57 PM »
"(First Solar) also announced that its manufacturing cost will be $0.63 to $0.66 per watt in 2013 and will plunge to $0.40 per watt by 2017."

http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/First-Solar-Surprises-With-Big-2013-Guidance-40-Cents-Per-Watt-Cost-by-201

The current average silicon panel prices (large lots) is $0.675/W and thin film is $0.623. 

http://pvinsights.com/

First Solar is building large solar farms using their panels and then selling the completed projects to investors.  I suspect this strategy is working to help them move through the current panel manufacturers shakeout.

Bob Wallace

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Re: Solar prices falling faster than the ice is melting.
« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2013, 08:27:47 PM »
Greentech Media is projecting that panel prices will drop from an average of 63 cents per watt in 2012 to 55 cents in 2014 and 47 cents in 2016.

They are also projecting a 20% annual demand growth.

And that the current shake out in the panel maufacturing industry will drop the number of manufacturers from 357 to just under 100.

http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/four-must-see-charts-on-global-solar-demand

Another article on the site suggests that consolidation will benefit technology.  The remaining manufacturers will increase their research budgets in order to stay in the game and that will drive efficiencies faster.