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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.


Solar at 2.99 cents/kWh May 5, 2016

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

I guess this is starting to sound a little repetitive, but yet another record has been set for solar PV – at a whopping 2.99 cents/kWh, well down into the range of unfiltered coal plants or high-quality hydro. Now again, this is in Dubai, which tends to be sunny, but, again, that’s like complaining we built hydro where there’s a river.

Now you might want to dismiss this number because it’s Dubai. But only last month another contract was signed at 3.45/kWh in Mexico, and it was only a few months ago that everyone was stunned by the Saudi and Nevada numbers at 5.85. That means the price has fallen almost 50% in the last year.

Now whether this is simply because of a temporary oversupply situation in China I can’t say, but it doesn’t make a difference. Solar is now cheaper than coal, and from here out, always will be. Welcome to that future everyone was talking about in the 70’s.

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.