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FIT to be tied January 31, 2012

Posted by Maury Markowitz in FIT program, power grid, solar.
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In my last post I talked about how we try to compare the value of the electricity that different sources generate. When we measure that in terms of how much you pay, we call that the “Levelized Cost of Electricity”, or LCoE. Right now that comes out to around 25 cents/kWh for solar panels on your roof, a little less than double what you pay on average if you buy power from your local utility.

But the key take-away from these sorts of calculations is that solar is falling in cost, and quickly. It’s only a matter of time before it’s cheaper to put a panel on your roof than it is to buy it from the grid. In the best case scenarios, that day is only a few years out.

Except it isn’t. At least not here in Ontario. And that’s because the very program that is helping introduce PV to the market basically guarantees it will never happen. And if we ever want to see grid parity, and we do, then the program has to go. Here’s why…


Your own grid parity PV system January 24, 2012

Posted by Maury Markowitz in solar.
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I was talking shop a couple of days ago and we started throwing around numbers for PV prices moving forward. In case you haven’t heard, equipment costs, even on small systems, have hit the $2 mark in USD. That means a mid-size plant, where the construction costs are spread out, should go in around USD$3 a watt. In capital terms PV is now one of the least expensive forms of power available.

So, yeah, GOOD!

But that’s talking about the problem in the lingo of the power industry, where everyone talks about the cost of building the plant (the “CAPEX”) and not so much about the cost of electricity it produces. That makes more sense than you might think, because if the plant can’t make competitive electricity you simply don’t build it.

But for you, the reader, all you care about is the cost of the power. So follow along while we explore the wonderful world of the Levelized Cost of Electricity


Grid parity for solar, at last? July 21, 2011

Posted by Maury Markowitz in solar.
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I watch PV developments as best I can, and I’m more than familiar with most of the leading-edge developments. That’s why this story was such a surprise to me. It appears that we might finally have a cell that will allow us to hit grid parity for real.

That cell comes from a small company in California,¬†Alta Devices. They’ve been around for a while and their tech wasn’t a secret by any means. However, they just dropped a bomb – their latest samples are smashing efficiency records one after the other, and the cost of the system is among the lowest of the lows. It’s that one-two punch that makes this story so interesting. So, here we go…