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Retail Solar Panels Down In Price By 50% In Three Years


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Maybe, but £4500/6 is £750 per day. Nice work for a electrician, although you would be a bit over qualified.

Peter, how effective would these be on an ESE facing Roof, or a NNW facing roof? I imagine ESE would be preferable, but would they be worthwhile installing?

Is there any guidance on how much power a panel generates for each degree away from South in either direction?

Is it likely that a panel facing East would only produce 50% of the power than a panel facing south, or is that calculation too simplistic.

Even with a 50% drop in power, if Installation makes up 50% of the total cost, then a self install could still be viable?

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Hi Peter, you need to quote some of the text from around that graph. As I understand it the reason wholesale prices are low is because the bottom has dropped out of the market, and that's what the text seems to say:- "This is a function of continued module over-supply as manufacturers struggle to make sufficient cuts in production to respond to the new market conditions". Basically the panel vendors have had to slash prices and are selling below cost. Not good. Just the other week Solyndra went bust despite $500 million funding from Obama . Solyndra said they went bust due in part to "... a global oversupply of solar panels and a severe compression of prices that in part resulted from uncertainty in governmental incentive programs in Europe and the decline in credit markets that finance solar systems."

So the low cost of panels is not the sign of a healthy market. As the old saying goes "we'll lose money on each unit, but we'll make it up on the volume" :) It's always been the same with volume semiconductors, particularly DRAM and flash. You have to commit so far in advance to factory capacity, if the bottom falls out of the market all you can do is keep manufacturing, dump the product at the smallest loss you can, and hope you can outlast your competitors, or the cycle turns again. A horrible business.

I expect more panel vendors will go bust soon.

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Peter, how effective would these be on an ESE facing Roof, or a NNW facing roof? I imagine ESE would be preferable, but would they be worthwhile installing?

Is there any guidance on how much power a panel generates for each degree away from South in either direction?

Is it likely that a panel facing East would only produce 50% of the power than a panel facing south, or is that calculation too simplistic.

Even with a 50% drop in power, if Installation makes up 50% of the total cost, then a self install could still be viable?

According the Orientation and Tilt table here: http://www.solarpv.co.uk/solar-pv-orientation.html then you still get 56% on a horizontal West facing wall, so might be worth it. (Note that it also depends of the tilt of your roof)

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Like some wag 'thinker' pointed out - all the savings they quote you are wasted cos you are at work not using the panel's output when they are working on full capacity during the day.

Without some means of cheap storage or immediate use they are next to useless - which is why Billion dollar rip-off companies have gone bust after conning Billions of dollars from US Taxpayers thru Govt grants to the greeny rip-off movement 'front' companies!

Edited by erranta
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Like some wag 'thinker' pointed out - all the savings they quote you are wasted cos you are at work not using the panel's output when they are working on full capacity during the day.

Without some means of cheap storage or immediate use they are next to useless - which is why Billion dollar rip-off companies have gone bust after conning Billions of dollars from US Taxpayers thru Govt grants to the greeny rip-off movement 'front' companies!

The concept of a feed in tariff has obviously passed you by. The excess electricity generated is feed back into the grid and the electricity company pays you for it. So you don't store it and its used efficiently. The money for this comes form electricity consumers who can't afford to invest in solar panels.

Hi Peter, you need to quote some of the text from around that graph. As I understand it the reason wholesale prices are low is because the bottom has dropped out of the market, and that's what the text seems to say:- "This is a function of continued module over-supply as manufacturers struggle to make sufficient cuts in production to respond to the new market conditions". Basically the panel vendors have had to slash prices and are selling below cost. Not good. Just the other week Solyndra went bust despite $500 million funding from Obama . Solyndra said they went bust due in part to "... a global oversupply of solar panels and a severe compression of prices that in part resulted from uncertainty in governmental incentive programs in Europe and the decline in credit markets that finance solar systems."

This is a good point. Low prices may not last if too many companies go bust. Solyndra went bust becuase they took normal panels and made them cost twice as much by making them track the sun. They also never got round to selling anything. However fundamentally cheap manufacturing technology is coming along. Thin film solar panels are printed onto aluminium foil using inkjets at 100 meters per second on 2meter wide sheets. Its almost like printing newspaper.

Nanosolar’s roll-to-roll printing process allows the company to benefit from the combination of low capital expenditure and high throughput, which results in an extremely low fixed-cost portion of the production cost per watt. This when combined with a panel design that uses less overall materials for production and installation will enable the company to surpass the $.60 per Watt cost threshold within the next several years. Nanosolar will reach an annual production capacity of 115 megawatts by Fall 2011, and expects to at least double capacity each year thereafter.

But the combination of low prices and the extremely generous government feed-in tariffs is not going to last for ever.

If I lived in the UK I'd seriously consider it before the end of the super generous scheme in April (?)

Edited by Peter Hun
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The concept of a feed in tariff has obviously passed you by. The excess electricity generated is feed back into the grid and the electricity company pays you for it. So you don't store it and its used efficiently. The money for this comes form electricity consumers who can't afford to invest in solar panels.

This is a good point. Low prices may not last if too many companies go bust, however fundamentally cheap manufacturing technology is coming along. Thin film solar panels are printed onto aluminium foil using inkjets at 100 meters per second on 2meter wide sheets. Its almost like printing newspaper.

But the combination of low prices and the extremely generous government feed-in tariffs is not going to last for ever.

If I lived in the UK I'd seriously consider it before the end of the super generous scheme in April (?)

Actually, the salesman was saying (AFTER he had the deposit cheque..) that they may even bring the review forward from April.

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What is the score if you move ? Does the 25 year agreement go with you or stay with the house ? And what about if a roof needs redone - would this add a lot to the cost ? I assume it would ?

It stays with the house.

I'd see that as a better selling point than twigs in vases for the next 20-odd years, although things might get interesting after the FIT has expired, because the potential buyer would then still have to maintain/replace the inverter but would not be getting the FIT. OTOH, given the way electronics go, you'd hope an inverter would be pretty cheap 25 years in the future.

I suspect our roof will outlast me..

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It stays with the house.

I'd see that as a better selling point than twigs in vases for the next 20-odd years, although things might get interesting after the FIT has expired, because the potential buyer would then still have to maintain/replace the inverter but would not be getting the FIT. OTOH, given the way electronics go, you'd hope an inverter would be pretty cheap 25 years in the future.

I suspect our roof will outlast me..

Yep could be a good selling point - but then it depends on the life left in them.

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Interesting debate.

Let me declare an interest here; my company supplies and installs PV systems for domestic and commercial customers. My take on the subjects raised here are:

1. Costs - yes, down a lot over the past 18mths. When the FiT scheme was introduced in April 2010 and 4kWp system would typically cost £15k. We are pricing them at around £10 at the moment (using good quality modules and inverters - you can get much cheaper if you want to use some of low cost asian modules but we dont becasue we dont like the quality of the guarantees behind them). Several reasons for this - massive over capacity worldwide coupled with changes to subsidies paid in the previously strongly growing markets of Germany and Spain. The changes made to the UK FiT scheme for large systems in August this year also meant that a lot of shipped capacity suddenly had nowhere to go.

2. FiT. It does need to come down and perhaps should have already done so; domestic customers who get in at the current rate are achieving a first year yield of up to 16% - remember this is tax free and index linked to RPI for 25 years - so clearly if changes arent made then the money will run out. If the FiT rate is halved, as is widely expected (we'll probably find out today) then a well designed domestic PV system should still yield 6-8% which was pretty much where we were at when the scheme was started. A lower FiT should also kill off much of the 'free' PV market which has sucked much of the money up in the last year.

3. FiT income and moving. The FiT income is asigned to you (not a property) and you can take it with you but whether a purchaser would be happy with that arrangement is open to debate.

4. Economics. Investment return aside, anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of the UKs precarious energy situation will know that electricty prices are only heading one way. We are increasingly reliant on middle eastern and north African countries for our gas supplies ( we generate over 35% of our electricity from gas powered stations) and these countries are hardly immune to political instability. A stand off between Saudi and Iran could put an immediate halt to those shipments of LNG from Qatar for example. These supplies are also sold on an open market and faster growing asian economies may be able to pay more for them. Self generation is not only sensible, it is probably vital for energy security.

5. Self installation - your installation is only eligable for the FiT payment if it have been installed by a MCS accredited installer using MCS accredited products. You probably can get this accrediation easily enough, there are lots of courses available.

If you are thinking of getting it done, the usual due diligence should be observed; check out the directors of the business on Companies House - PO box addresses should be a cause for concern. Talk to their existing customers and have a look at installed work if possible.

Good luck

Simon

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Can't the power generated be stored in batteries until needed?

It certainly can but deep-cycle batteries are hugely expensive now.

My house is not connected the mains and runs from solar with a generator backup. Managed perfectly well for the last seven years (family of five - three young children).

We've now got to the point where we have to replace our battery bank and upgrade our system with extra panels, or alternatively connect up to the grid.

Replacing the batteries will probably cost a grand for decent quality batteries. New panels at 3€ a watt seems a reasonable price, and seeing as over here in Spain we get over 300 days of sunshine a year, would probably be worth doing.

Instead we're going down the mains route.

Getting to the stage where we need more power - children growing up and wanting electrical items, fed up with always being the "light police" and having to watch how much power we consume. Looking forward to getting mains now so that we don't have to worry if we leave a light on, nor how many computers I can be running at one time. The Internet and routers can stay switched on permenently, we can use an electric toaster instead of the gas grill. You don't realise how much you miss things until you go without.

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It certainly can but deep-cycle batteries are hugely expensive now.

My house is not connected the mains and runs from solar with a generator backup. Managed perfectly well for the last seven years (family of five - three young children).

We've now got to the point where we have to replace our battery bank and upgrade our system with extra panels, or alternatively connect up to the grid.

Replacing the batteries will probably cost a grand for decent quality batteries. New panels at 3€ a watt seems a reasonable price, and seeing as over here in Spain we get over 300 days of sunshine a year, would probably be worth doing.

Instead we're going down the mains route.

Getting to the stage where we need more power - children growing up and wanting electrical items, fed up with always being the "light police" and having to watch how much power we consume. Looking forward to getting mains now so that we don't have to worry if we leave a light on, nor how many computers I can be running at one time. The Internet and routers can stay switched on permenently, we can use an electric toaster instead of the gas grill. You don't realise how much you miss things until you go without.

Interesting.

I dream of being both off-grid and grid-connected, ie panels that top up a 5-7 day battery before selling the surplus to the grid. It seems to me to be the only way all angles are covered, TFH and otherwise. At about 40k GBP if you want the house with full modern electrical appliances, it's not a cheap idea.

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Getting to the stage where we need more power - children growing up and wanting electrical items, fed up with always being the "light police" and having to watch how much power we consume. Looking forward to getting mains now so that we don't have to worry if we leave a light on, nor how many computers I can be running at one time. The Internet and routers can stay switched on permenently, we can use an electric toaster instead of the gas grill. You don't realise how much you miss things until you go without.

Good post. You CAN be self sufficient if you have sufficient dedication and capital. But if you're lacking in either, buying off someone else is so much more convenient. We worked out how much it would cost us to be self-sufficient in veg. Way more than buying it from Mr Tesco. And who needs 200 kg of potatoes all at the same time?

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We've been self-sufficient in electricity for quite a while now, but the batteries just don't hold as much charge as they used to. This means that the backup genny comes on more often and for longer periods of time.

You don't need to spend many thousands in order to live off-grid. We only have about 400 watts of solar panels. Arranged in a 24v array they provide just over 10 amps in full sunlight. The battery bank was about 600ah and initially provided all the power our house required.

The house is badly insulated but being in the south of Spain, we can get away with just using a wood burner and a strategically routed chimney to provide the bulk of our heating during the few cold winter months.

We don't go without modern utilities: we have 230v electric lighting throughout; a full-sized fridge/freezer that runs off bottled gas; cooking is with a wide five-burner hob and oven, again running from a gas bottle; Hot water is provided by solar or a gas heater in the winter; we have tv, internet, hi-fi, mobile telephones. We don't have such luxuries as a fast-boil electric kettle, our is a hob-top old-fashioned thing that works just as well, if a little longer to boil.

Then in the rare occasions that we have several days of continuous cloud cover and the batteries are starting to deplete we have to run the generator for a couple of hours or so. This is connected directly to the inverter which doubles as a powerful battery charger so that the batteries get a super-fast charge at the same time.

So when I say we are off-grid, we still rely on bottled gas (there's no mains gas in this part of Spain), and a can of petrol for the genny once a month. Now that the batteries are starting to fade we have had to take the bad ones out of the bank and are now down to about 200ah, and these are not going to last much longer.

So the decision has to be made: Replace the batteries and invest in more panels or bite the bullet and just connect to the mains. The cost is going to be similar so the mains vote gets it.

The real decision-maker for us is not the price of solar panels but the price of batteries. Even with a 240v solar array you still need something to store that charge in when the sun goes down.

Edited by DustyDog
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We've been self-sufficient in electricity for quite a while now, but the batteries just don't hold as much charge as they used to. This means that the backup genny comes on more often and for longer periods of time.

You don't need to spend many thousands in order to live off-grid. We only have about 400 watts of solar panels. Arranged in a 24v array they provide just over 10 amps in full sunlight. The battery bank was about 600ah and initially provided all the power our house required.

The house is badly insulated but being in the south of Spain, we can get away with just using a wood burner and a strategically routed chimney to provide the bulk of our heating during the few cold winter months.

We don't go without modern utilities: we have 230v electric lighting throughout; a full-sized fridge/freezer that runs off bottled gas; cooking is with a wide five-burner hob and oven, again running from a gas bottle; Hot water is provided by solar or a gas heater in the winter; we have tv, internet, hi-fi, mobile telephones. We don't have such luxuries as a fast-boil electric kettle, our is a hob-top old-fashioned thing that works just as well, if a little longer to boil.

Then in the rare occasions that we have several days of continuous cloud cover and the batteries are starting to deplete we have to run the generator for a couple of hours or so. This is connected directly to the inverter which doubles as a powerful battery charger so that the batteries get a super-fast charge at the same time.

So when I say we are off-grid, we still rely on bottled gas (there's no mains gas in this part of Spain), and a can of petrol for the genny once a month. Now that the batteries are starting to fade we have had to take the bad ones out of the bank and are now down to about 200ah, and these are not going to last much longer.

So the decision has to be made: Replace the batteries and invest in more panels or bite the bullet and just connect to the mains. The cost is going to be similar so the mains vote gets it.

The real decision-maker for us is not the price of solar panels but the price of batteries. Even with a 240v solar array you still need something to store that charge in when the sun goes down.

Someone posted a while back about using ex-telecomms batteries for his house, apparently quite cheap and last about 5 years. That was UK not Spain though.

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(using good quality modules and inverters - you can get much cheaper if you want to use some of low cost asian modules but we dont becasue we dont like the quality of the guarantees behind them)

Any opinions on Canadian Solar? They are build to take a annual dump of snow, yet seem to be the cheapest panels you can get. E.g. this at $1.31

http://www.affordable-solar.com/store/solar-panels-by-the-pallet/CSI-CS6P-235PX-235W-Solar-Panel-pallet24

Key Features

-Top ranked PVUSA (PTC) rating in California for higher energy production

-Industry first comprehensive warranty insurance by

AM Best rated leading insurance companies in the world

-Industry leading plus only power tolerance: 0 ~ +5W

-Strong framed module, passing mechanical load test of 5400Pa to withstand heavier snow load

-The 1st manufacturer in the PV industry certified for ISO:TS16949 (The automotive quality management system) in module production since 2003

-ISO17025 qualified manufacturer owned testing lab, fully complying to IEC, TUV, UL testing standards

-Backed By Our New 10/25 Linear Power Warranty Plus our added 25 year insurance coverage

I'm not interested in FIT as Poland (where I live) scheme is useless.

How about micro inverters, MTBF of 300 years and a 15 year guarantee.

http://www.affordable-solar.com/store/solar-inverters-grid-tied/enphase-m210-84-240-s12

Edited by Peter Hun
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Been doing a bit of research, checking out local companies and now i've got to point where i'm trying to find out what kind of panes they fit and how much it costs to buy them (to make sure if I get panels fitted i'm not getting my wallet raped - though I do expect to be ripped off for installation).

Also, there seems to be a huge difference in the estimated output of some panels.

I'm assuming i'm comparing like with like from websites i've looked at.

So can any "experts" out there tell me what something like a Suntech STP 380Ts-DA should cost and why it's KWh output over a year seems to be far higher than any other panels i've (so far) seen?

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The field tests run by Photon magazine are a good place to start..

http://energia.elmedia.net/en/news/rec-solar-modules-number-one-in-independent-photon-field-performance-test_00296.html

Candian Solar are one of the better Chinese modules for budget isntallations, Suntech also relatively well regarded. The general view is that quite a few of the Asian manufacturers are likely to go bust in the near term.

SImon

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Been doing a bit of research, checking out local companies and now i've got to point where i'm trying to find out what kind of panes they fit and how much it costs to buy them (to make sure if I get panels fitted i'm not getting my wallet raped - though I do expect to be ripped off for installation).

Also, there seems to be a huge difference in the estimated output of some panels.

I'm assuming i'm comparing like with like from websites i've looked at.

So can any "experts" out there tell me what something like a Suntech STP 380Ts-DA should cost and why it's KWh output over a year seems to be far higher than any other panels i've (so far) seen?

No info on the Suntech, but useful site for checking actual outputs from installations - click on entry on the map and then Voir la piche at the top to get monthly generation from the equipment installed.

http://www.bdpv.com/carte_installation_en.php

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