Read this article by the AP and you would think the reason solar is cheaper is subsidies.
Well, good sources tell us that Chinese crystalline silicon modules are available at $1.4/W; and big systems can be installed with trackers at $3/W (which means $2.5/W without them). These prices put solar in the 10 c/kWh range right now in good sunlight!
The mainstream press probably doesn’t know what these numbers mean. For comparison, modules used to sell for $2-$4/W, so $1.40/W is a huge drop. And big systems went in for $4/W or more, and little ones on rooftops for the outrageously high number of $8/W quoted by the article and out-of-date reports.
Some of this appears to be dumping by Chinese silicon companies. It has big implications. It may put everyone but technology leaders like First Solar out of business. The European silicon companies are especially vulnerable. People speculate that the Chinese have picked PV as their pet future industry and will essentially give it all the money it needs to survive this downturn. But that could be an overstatement from the non-Chinese companies; it’s hard to tell.
Now if we only had a way to placeshift our solar panels. 🙂
In the Solar Biz, China is without a doubt playing for keeps. check out this recent press release from Applied Materials. Where do you think the $250M for the R&D center came from? Applied Materials – I don’t think so. Plus, imagine all of the Photovolatic technology China was able to transfer (to China) by simply buying a few tools from Applied Materials.
Applied opens solar research facility in China
(10/26/2009 2:53 PM EDT)
SAN FRANCISCO—Applied Materials Inc. said Monday (Oct 26) it has opened what it described as the largest non-government solar energy research facility in the world in Xi’an, China.
Applied’s Solar Technology Center is comprised of laboratory and office buildings covering more than 400,000 square feet and contains an entire Applied SunFab thin film manufacturing line and a complete crystalline silicon pilot process, according to Applied (Sunnyvale, Calif.).
Applied first broke ground in Xi’an in 2006, the company said. The total investment in the multi-phase project is more than $250 million dollars, Applied said.
The facility includes a solar technology center for R&D, engineering, product demonstration, testing and training for crystalline silicon and thin film solar module manufacturing equipment and processes, Applied said. Employees in the center will work with local suppliers to test and qualify new materials and tools and evaluate potential new cost saving technologies, the company said