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12 Jan 2012

Jon Gabay writes:

Renewable energy can be an expensive endeavor and photovoltaic systems are no exception. Ground and roof-mount frames have to be tough enough to handle weather extremes and conditions, and can be very costly even without tracking.

If you use storage batteries, there are large initial expense and the replacement costs every so many years to be considered. On the positive side, 90 percent of the materials in a lead acid battery are completely recyclable. Chargers and inverters are not cheap either.

The panels are the biggest expense. Fortunately, with higher manufacturing capacities coming on line, photovoltaic panel pricing is starting to come down, but not yet to the level of mass deployment.

In 2008, the price of $1000/kg of silicon kept panels at process of three to four dollars per watt. Combining the increase in silicon production capacity with the global slowdown has dropped the price to the $40/kg level meaning we may soon really be at the coveted one dollar per watt price point that many say will make photovoltaic solar on a level playing field with non-renewable energy technologies. We are presently around $1.50 per watt.

To get to that level of high deployment, payback has to be quicker. The lower cost promise of solar panels is one factor for quicker return on investment. The other is the changed architecture of photovoltaic systems stemming from the use of micro inverters.

Either way, the market for the electronics that make use of the solar energy more efficiently is about to explode.

Squeezing Energy from Photovoltaic Panels - [Link]

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