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Tesla nails solar roofs October 29, 2016

Posted by Maury Markowitz in solar.

Yes, those are solar shingles.

On 28 October, Tesla held a press event announcing their long-rumored solar roofing product.

I have to say, I’m floored. This is leaps and bounds ahead of anything I’ve seen before. They’re not just acceptable looking, they’re downright beautiful.


Another PV ERoEI debacle May 17, 2016

Posted by Maury Markowitz in balonium, solar.
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Your face should have this expression when you read Ferroni and Hopkirk’s paper.

recent report by Ferroni and Hopkirk explores the energy balance of solar power, and concludes that using PV is energy negative. That is, building PV requires more energy than the panel will produce over its lifetime.

Claims like these pop up from time to time, and normally end up being based on definitional tricks on the part of the authors. This example is no different in that respect, but in this case they also add a liberal dose of bad data.

The paper is so filled with errors and omissions that’s it’s almost breathtaking. Once again, dear reader, it’s time for the deep dive.


2015 PV prices hit new lows in the US March 30, 2016

Posted by Maury Markowitz in solar, Uncategorized.
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Down, down, and away!

Most of the data on PV pricing, like the Lazard numbers I prefer, tend to focus on larger installations, especially “utility scale”. In the US this isn’t all that useful on its own, because about half of all the panels going in are on residential rooftops. So that’s why this report is so useful.

Basically the price declines in larger installs remains as breathtakingly rapid as it has been for years, including a whopping 17% in 2015 alone. But those residential numbers are looking pretty plateaued to me. So let’s see what this means.


Enphase S280 mini-review, and the future of Enphase November 27, 2015

Posted by Maury Markowitz in solar.
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The S280; newer, cheaper and a lot cooler looking.

In spite of 2015 being the best year in PV’s history in terms of installs, including residential, Enphase is having a rough go of it.

As CEO Paul Nahi put it, “The fourth quarter of 2015 is more challenging than expected”.

But they’re fighting back with their new S series inverters, and have ambitious plans for the next two years. Lets take a look at both.


PV at 4 cents October 15, 2015

Posted by Maury Markowitz in solar.
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Image of a typical First Solar ground mount installation

The project will likely use FS’s unique thin-film panels.

During the summer, Warren Buffett’s NV Energy in Nevada signed a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA) for 20 years at 3.87 cents a kilowatt-hour. This is for PV generated by First Solar’s 100-megawatt Playa Solar 2 installation.

This means that FS is generating that power, including tax breaks, at less than 4 cents/kWh. Those breaks account for less than 2 cents. The Nevada Public Utilities Commission called the rates “very reasonable”, having outcompeted all other bids including NG turbines. Understatement indeed!

This isn’t the only example. NV Energy signed a similar deal with SunPower’s Boulder Solar at an equally eyewatering 4.6 cents only last year, and Dubai’s 200 MW plant, the first major one in the country, is at  5.85 cents, and the Saudi’s at 4.9 cents. The prices in those areas will go down as the supply chain improves.

Now of course all of these are in sunny locations with few clouds, which some will complain about. But that’s like complaining you build hydro where there’s a river. And prices continue to fall. Even if the US tax credits expire, which they will sooner or later, PV will compete even on the utility side of the meter pretty much anywhere south of the Mason-Dixon.

Does solar generate more waste than nuclear? No. June 18, 2015

Posted by Maury Markowitz in nuclear, solar.
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Picture of the star of Highlander

There can be only one!

As I noted in an earlier post, one of the things you often come across in the energy blogging world is that supporters of one technology attack others.

This example takes the cake. It’s a somewhat old article (archived here) that claims to demonstrate that solar power generates more waste than nuclear.

Update: a reader pointed out a rather obvious error, and when I checked against my original calculations I found a whole section was missing. Both fixed.