Skip to comments.Solar power costs dropping, nearing competition
Posted on 06/22/2007 6:06:55 AM PDT by Uncledave
Solar power costs dropping, nearing competition Thu Jun 21, 2007 3:35PM EDT
By Rebekah Kebede
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Solar energy is fast closing the price gap with conventional U.S. power sources and is likely to drop to near even in cost in many regions in the next few years, industry sources said this week.
Price declines for the clean energy have been driven by the ramp up in production of solar cells and panels and advances in technology that have increased the cells' efficiency.
Under current laws that expire in 2008, installation of solar power systems are subsidized by a 30 percent investment tax credit that helps narrow the gap between the cost of 20 to 40 cents per kwh and typical U.S. retail electricity costs of about 10.5 cents per kwh.
Congress is debating a possible extension and expansion of current solar subsidies as part of a broader energy legislation package.
But much of solar's viability hinges on whether the systems can feed power directly into the grid systems used by utilities, Michael Ahern, CEO of solar module manufacturer First Solar Inc., told Reuters Wednesday at the Renewable Energy Finance Forum.
Currently, utilities can buy power from low-cost coal-fired plants for around 4 cents per kilowatt, and sell the power to households and business at about 12 cents per kwh, although prices can be much higher during peak usage hours, said Ahearn.
However, in a supply-constrained market such as California, Ahearn said, power prices ranged from 12 to 23 cents per kwh, making solar nearly competitive.
First Solar hopes to offer retail energy buyers competitive power prices of 8 to 11 cents per kwh as early as 2010, Ahearn said.
"If we can hit 8 to 10 cents, I think we're going to open some markets," he said.
With power prices climbing and the cost of solar power falling, the outlook for solar energy is bright, said Alf Bjorseth, CEO of Swedish company Scatec.
In some markets, solar energy is already a cost effective source of power, Bjorseth said, and that trend is set to expand, especially in larger markets.
New technologies such as thin film solar modules and the use of nanotechnology will further boost solar energy affordability, according to company executives at the conference.
Tempering that optimism, however, were several challenges to the industry, including a shortage of the silicon that is used to make solar modules, which has hampered industry growth, said Bjorseth.
The regulatory environment may also prove to be an obstacle to solar power, according to Ahearn.
Investing in new solar installations also remained risky because no clear regulatory framework existed to compare how renewables would fare economically over the long-term against more conventional sources, even with federal subsidies, Ahearn said.
(Additional reporting by Matt Daily)
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NICE! Get off the middle eastern muzzie oil teat...
“NICE! Get off the middle eastern muzzie oil teat...”
It may help do that, but only indirectly.
Most of the power generation is done by something other than oil. Oil is used primarily for gasoline, and also plastics and other manufactured products.
Unless we can harness the existing coal we are using to power our cars this won’t reduce the dependence on foreign oil.
But solar is still a great idea for the long run and hopefully will prove economically viable.
First Solar hopes to offer retail energy buyers competitive power prices of 8 to 11 cents per kwh as early as 2010
They seem to be expecting pretty enormous cost savings in the next couple of years. I hope they make it, but I wont hold my breath.
How “clean” is solar energy? I’m talking about producing the solar cells and then replacing old ones and disposing of them? How long do they last? [I know my solar-powered calculators won’t die. Those cells work for years and years.]
That would be the icing on the cake. The cake part is being able to keep the household running at some capacity in the event of a major power outage. We really want to do solar on our rural house (yet to be built) but we’ve been pondering it for our current home in NVA.
Ask how the “store” the energy.
Problem is, even in high solar radiation areas, it’s not a very “power dense” source. Also, it’s a SUPPLEMENT, not a replacement.
The costs associated with generation of solar go way beyond just the PV cells. Want to hook into your home? Better have an inverter, an isolation switch so you don’t backfeed onto the grid in case of outage, etc, etc...and you’re looking at about 25-40K for that kind of system.
Unless you’re paying over a grand a month for electricity, it’s hardly worth it.
NICE! Get off the middle eastern muzzie oil teat..
As the recent problems and discoveries have proven, the muzzie oil teat, is a far less offensive problem, than being on the Chinese food teat. Additionally, the directions taken or not taken by the US government, indicate we won’t soon be off either teat any time soon.
The blatantly stupid burning of our food supply in the vain hope that there are viable alternatives at this time, for the use of crude oil and its various cracked products, is beyond belief. The world wide rise in food prices because of this idiocy, should have been expected.
Oil is the product, drilling is the means, refining yields the products that every engine needs. Get on with reality and suspend the stupidity. The more we drill the better life will be, and might even cause the price of oil to come down, because the more there is the lower the price, per economic rules.
I live in the Rio Grande Valley Texas and have been trying to get Solar for my house for years. I call or email the places i have found and they never return my call. Don’t want my money i guess. Must have something to to with TEXAS law.
“Ask how the store the energy.”
Hehe. I can’t speak for everyone but my buddy has a small circuit he runs from solar. I think he uses EIGHT car batteries for storage, for that small circuit.
Man here in DFW put solar cells on roof, actually generates enough to make the meter run backwards. Light bill declined to $40 per month. However, the HOA is trying to force him to remove them as an “eyesore”, even though they’re not visible.
Seems that until we can get rid of these idiots in HOAs, govt, there will be far too many problems to make solar power viable.
When you have a problem with a public utility, you call and they fix it at no charge.
When your megabuck solar panel acts up, you call a high priced technical company to come clean the bug or bird doo, repair the frozen pipe, clean off the tree sap, or whatever.
I had a friend that tried wind generated electricity. It was
the most expensive and unreliable electricity in his life.
When in Romania back in 2004, I saw many large apartment buildings that had been heated with massive solar collectors that were mounted on the roofs during the commie era.
All of them are now just rusting scrap iron, not worth the cost of removing.
I’d never buy a property in an HOA development.
OK—how do they store the energy? [I forgot about that part.]
If memory serves me correctly I believe Israel (or maybe it’s China) mandates that new construction install solar water heaters. (I’m not for mandates, but I do think solar water heaters should be given a lot more attention.) I know both countries have put a lot of effort into making those units more efficient. I think it’s one easy (and can be inexpensive) way that we in America could be saving a lot of energy (especially in the sunny regions) since hot water heaters are one of our main residential uses of electricity.
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