PV prices going down?

Jul 23, 2006 01:36 pm
PV prices going down?

The Solar American Initiative (SAI) is a broad national program designed to encourage competition throughout the solar industry by lowering the cost of photovoltaic units and fostering innovation of new technologies.
I would say that that have not been doing to good of a job lately.
 I wonder if the U.S. government was to increase SAI's funding from $80,000,000 to say $148,000,000 would that make a difference in the price of PV module as we see them advertised at such places as the Alt-E Store?
I guess we will see...

I am going to play around with that number a little. $148,000,000. Could you build a residential PV system with as little as say $40,000? Most of you would say sure, maybe even a heck yeah! Some might say they could build a really nice off grid system with that kind of money, I know I could! Well with $148,000,000 we could build 3,700 such systems. I bet there is even a few of us, that do not require a lot, that could purchase a piece of land, build a home with an off grid PV system to power it with as little as $40,000. I have seen one acre of land go for as little as $4,000. I have read about nice homes being built for as little as $10,000. That leaves $26,000 for all the amenities and an off grid PV system. Go figure.

I don't know why, but this all reminds of that scene in Cicel B. DeMilles - the Ten Commandments, where Rameses (Yul Brynner) is "weighing" the tactics used by Moses's (Charlton Heston) in an attempt to minusulate Moses in front of Sethi (Sir Cedric Hardwicke). Anyway, my point is maybe that money should be place where it could make a bigger difference. So far I have only seen PV prices, as advertised to the general public, go up for the past four years. In the beginning, advertised PV prices were comparatively high mainly because one did not get very much for their money i.e. no frames, warranties or J-boxes and low output. That changed. The prices were relatively the same but output increased and we got frames, J-boxes and 25 year warranties for our money. Now today all we have are higher prices and we are being told that it is all because production cannot keep up with demand. Who's fault is that I wonder?
Comments welcomed.

8 Posts
Aug 7, 2006 04:15 am
Re: PV prices going down?

As a small PV panel producer ill tell you in 2 words what keeps prices up.Raw silicon.It is not readily available to all countries and the main producer of multicrystalline silicon wafers is--Norway.Do they have more access to raw silicon?Dont know but they have a cost effective way to produce 100% pure silicone from silane gas which sets them apart.PV cells must utilize very pure hi-grade silicon for effeciencies better than 16% and THAT is why prices stay high because there are not a whole lot of technically and more important,feduciarily sound companies that process raw silicon for the PV industry.The other problem is that the companies that DO make it have other preshipping contracts with semiconductor companies like Intel.
All of this is solvable of course and we see now (200% annual growth since 2001) that if you put research $ into PV,there is a massive return market and absolutely wide open field for patentable breakthroughs and just unbelievable profits.Right now,solar is affordable but what you are really paying for is the u.s. govt.,(and others) who have not put the $ into silicon processing r&d, startups and PV r&d in general.Oil has gotten trillions over the years to formulate new gas additives that basically rot your injector system but still havent solved the PE value waste that occurs in ICE engines.50% of that gas ends up as co2,SO and smoke when it isnt completely burned...they have never solved that,never will but congress still throws them billions in relief even when they make record profits.Meanwhile PV gets sidetracked with the hydrogen red herring and thrown table scraps.(It seems 300$ is the set price for bribe money of the people)
Solution?Lobby your represenative to champion renewables or be fired.
Use solar now,not later(it funds individual startups to do further research to further reduce end-user cost).Quit using oil,in all its forms,it is a dead resource and everytime you drive your car,it keeps that dead resource alive.Get an electric,do a conversion,use veg oil,dont know if united nuclear has their H2 conversion kit ready yet..,ride a bike(its better for you)walk,carpool,whatever...
The market now is seeing huge demands but 2007 is going to be flush with silicon(quarter 1 and 2) and expect that wafer prices to drop slightly--from av.4.11$W to 3.95$W(finished) which will cause end-user prices to drop(producer specific) but to keep things going,people have to buy and want solar products.
It will come down,all of this is inevitable and at some point solar will cost about the same as a candybar but my only political anger at the whole thing is that we could have been doing,gone through all of these preliminary prices etc over 20 years ago.We had the technological capability and the money but due to oils domination and blacklisting of green technologies,we sit at 2006 looking at the beginnings of the real green(technically capable) revolution.
Thats the shame of it but al least we are getting there now...better now than never.Just keep subsidizing good companies like Evergreen,mine : )-ull see it soon) and other resellers like AES.Prices will drop as our companies expand but if you want two definitive villains to blame,look no further than Oil and the U.S. Govt..
Thanks for no money guys!We did it without ya anyway!
Aug 13, 2006 06:20 am
Re: PV prices going down?

This is the bottom line as I see it -
By the time I install a 1 kW PV array with an off grid system (hey! if were going to save the planet then lets not horse around) to utilize that power at 120 vac in my home I will have payed out somewhere close to $12,000.00 USD. Agreed?
On one good day in the summer that PV array will net me about 6 kWh. That same PV array will net me on average for a year somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,314 kWh. (Obviously this is all region and site specific and dependent on the weather but I have tried to be generous, favoring PV output.)
Now lets look at the PV industries real competitor in the USA in this conflict, the coal fired generation of electricity. That same amount of electric power over a year at $0.12 per kWh would cost me $158.00 USD. With the one time cost of installing a 100 amp service added being about $500.00 USD that figure would become $658.00 USD for the first year only.
Okay. That PV array should not cost me anything after the initial installation for at least 7 years and then I must replace the battery bank. (I could have spent more intially and gotten a battery with a 15 year life.) This could add up to about $1,000.00 USD.
13 years of PV off grid would come to $13,000.00 USD were that same 13 years on grid would be $2,554.00 USD.
Most of us have learned that the cost of an off grid PV system is comparable to a life time of on grid bills. PV output diminishes with age and utility prices go up, so they would have a tendency to cancel each other out. Lets not forget about the "many pockets" we pay from for coal fired generation that are not itemized on that monthly bill but instead show up as tax deductions from our pay checks. Difficult to figure but not impossible.
By now you might be thinking that I am pro coal fired generation. You could not be more wrong if you are. I have lived off grid for over 26 years. The first 18 without an electricity what so ever. Only in the last 8 have I harvested electricity from sunshine. MSX 77's were $400.00 USD each, a few years later Matrix 105's were $400.00 USD each, now a few years later these same size PV modules would cost me $525.00 USD or more. I don't see what was wrong with the technology of either of those first two PV modules? They are still "cranking" out the watts to this day. What is all of this R&D doing beside increasing the PV industries profit margin at Wall Street? I guess what I am really asking here, metaphorically, is how many time does the wheel have to be reinvented?

Obviously all of these figures could be challenged but if the endusers are not purchasing the product (irregardless of PV industry profits) because the price tag on the shelf is to high when compared to the established infrastructure of coal fired generation then what has the PV industry really accomplished besides higher profits? Is the PV industry really out to "save the planet" or what?
I have had a lot of people ask me about PV power and its the same everytime, the look on their faces, when they here those prices its as if Frankenstein's monster has walked up behind me! Their eyes get wide open, their chin drops, and their skin turns pale, all but the scream of terror! Then that suddenly changes into a look that can only be interpreted as "are you crazy?" but out of politeness most of them do not say that out loud instead the subject gets changed or some peripheral distraction becomes predominant.

This the bottom line as I see it.


8 Posts
Aug 13, 2006 08:09 pm
Re: PV prices going down?

PV industries profit on wall street?
Dont know maybe you are talking about BP, solarex is theirs but i wouldnt put other good solar companies in their category.
Also not sure why you have the position that PV prices will not come down.Manufacturing processes for commercial panel production is very,very new.Less than a decade old and like i said in an earlier post,the US has not put money into companies that refine raw silicon.As this industry expands,(200% annually)that will fall inline no matter what congress does and 2007 is already projected for lower raw wafer and ingot prices.So prices will fall as companies build capital.You have to remember that the kernel start of PV manufacturing was started by oil companies that have had absolutely no incentive to offer people cost effective PV solutions.Im still not sure why they even got into it,im sure  someday someone will give me the history of that but i know for a fact they have not tried to bolster the industry with inter-industry materials networking.Such as securing silicon sources for exclusive PV use,offering workshops and seminars for PV professionals,offering training programs for PV specific careers-you name it.Any other booming business such as say computers saw all of this type of stuff early,hell IBM had basically trademarked the computer itsself-created a massive consumer base-- until they foolishly sold part of their interests to microsoft but point is,PV has pseudo stagnated while big oil was at the reins of the industry.Now that startups are now becoming capital players,you ARE seeing not only raw silicon prices dropping(2007)but per W and on panels.
All i can say is be patient and be a good ambassador for solar,i kinda doubt that people are that worried about prices as sales have only gone basically uh,atmospheric in the past few years but instead of trying to get them to not go with solar,how about tell them hey, did you know that with each panel you have you reduce co2 load in the atmosphere by 800lb a year?Hey remember that blackout a few weeks ago,yeah i had power all through that...you get the idea.
« Last Edit: Aug 13, 2006 08:12 pm by david hughes »
Aug 14, 2006 05:57 am
Re: PV prices going down?

Mr. Hughes. I am not trying to convince anyone that I am right and your wrong. These are for the most part my interpretations of what I am reading and have read from reports and from what I see and have seen, being advertised and I admit a certain amount of speculation. 

The U.S. Government is placing $148,000,000 in the hands of the Solar American Initiative in order to, among other things, lower the cost of PV.
One hundred and forty-eight million dollars!
All I have seen so far (besides higher prices) are larger modules with more cells. All it takes is a basic knowledge of direct current wiring to know adding more PV cells increases wattage. My pre-teen children have a computer game that along with reading, writing, and arithmetic, teaches basic DC circuitry. I have yet to see conversion efficiencies of PV modules in production higher than 15%. For the most part they are still around 12%. Can I assume that there is still a Standard Test Condition or STC on PV cells of 1,000 watts per square meter at 25 C?
What I am seeing from my perspective has the appearance of desperation. All of this federal government money being poured into R&D causing an increase in the cost of installing an offgrid PV system which then leads to other groups asking the government to help people obtain these system with more government money in the form of incentives from state government and buyback programs from power producers. Recently the push has been for grid interactive PV systems. An attempt to increase PV sales? I just don't see the light at the end of the tunnel that you see. I don't see PV module prices coming back down or PV module quality going up. I just don't see anything to convince me of these thing.
7 Posts
Aug 14, 2006 06:44 am
Re: PV prices going down?

Part of the problem may actually be the government subsidies.  What I mean by that, is by offering massive subsidies on PV panels, California, Germany and other places have spurred demand for PV systems.  The sudden surge in demand has ironically resulted in prices going up, since the supply just isn't there (with silicon being a major bottleneck).  The end result is even with the subsidies, you might end up paying about the same.  Hopefully 2007 does see PV panel prices start to come down a bit, because in all honesty the price right now is not competitive.  It was on the right trajectory for a while, but then with the sudden surge in demand it turned around. 

Of course, it's not a level playing field as we don't pay the full real price for coal, which would take into account the environmental and health hazards offered by it.  If the government got serious about requiring cleaner coal plants, and made it so that old, badly polluting plants are not basically given waivers, then the price of coal generated electricity would rise.  It's not a level playing field right now by a long shot. 
Aug 16, 2006 09:02 pm
Re: PV prices going down?

I understand what I have been told happened to cause the increase in advertised prices of PV modules, even though I do not completely believe it all as the whole truth. It would not be the first time the truth has been stretched, or manipulated, or even the whole truth not being told purposely and letting one believe what they might. This is not an accusation aimed at anyone in particular, it is more an observation of human behavior as written or spoken over thousands of years.

PV module sales have "skyrocketed" over last few years. Who was doing the bulk of all of this purchasing? Mega corporations or Governments in proxy by way of the average homeowners? 
The trend I see is that of PV modules becoming an item that will not be affordable to the average homeowner but instead, an item for those that would have an almost inexhaustible amount of capital and, what I perceive has been happening the past few years with PV prices could merely be the proverbial "toe in the water" testing it before the big plunge into a world of..... well for lack of better terminology, the "haves" and away from the "havenots." Leaving the world to be saved by the wealthy and keeping the not so wealthy dependent on them as has been the way for thousands of years. But don't take my word for it. Pick up any history book or book from the past, or play, and you well see that this trend has repeated itself throughout human history. Why should the PV industry be any different? We will be shifting our energy dependency of a thing from one aristocracy to another. There will not be any true energy Independence for the average person until we relearn how not to be dependent on it again and with 6.5 billion humans and counting I don't see the happening ever again.
8 Posts
Aug 25, 2006 11:21 am
Re: PV prices going down?

[This post has been removed by the moderators]

  Please keep personal attacks out of this forum.  We would like to create an open, welcoming atmosphere, where everyone is welcome to post with out it being personal.

  Thanks for your cooperation,  = )
« Last Edit: Aug 25, 2006 01:08 pm by Nick Albright »
8 Posts
Aug 25, 2006 02:09 pm
Re: PV prices going down?

[This post has been removed by the moderators]

  Please keep personal attacks out of this forum.  We would like to create an open, welcoming atmosphere, where everyone is welcome to post with out it being personal.

  Thanks for your cooperation,  = )
Your call,its your business.
109 Posts
Aug 25, 2006 02:21 pm
Re: PV prices going down?

Your call,its your business.

  Thanks for your understanding.  = )  We welcome all thoughts on the industry and where it is headed.  We certainly appreciate your posts, and as a small PV panel producer you provide a valuable perspective.


"Making Renewable Do-able"

Disclaimer and Disclosure

The Alternative Energy Store, Inc reserves the right, within its sole discretion, to refuse or delete any posting or portion thereof, or terminate or block the access to this forum.

The opinions and statements posted on this forum are the opinions and statements of the person posting same, and do not constitute the opinion or act of the Alternative Energy Store, Inc (AltE). The Alternative Energy Store, Inc does not endorse or subscribe to any particular posting. No posting shall be construed as the act or opinion of the Alternative Energy Store, Inc.

Click here for BBB Business Review

McAfee SECURE sites help keep you safe from identity theft, credit card fraud, spyware, spam, viruses and online scams
Desktop Website | Mobile Website


Click on an icon to share! If you don't see the method you want, hover over the orange "+".


What can we do to help you?

Please enter a summary
Sorry, the copyright must be in the template.
Please notify this forum's administrator that this site is using an ILLEGAL copy of SMF!
Copyright removed!!