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US Solar Industry Outlook Looks Good

Post in 'The Green Room' started by semipro, Jun 3, 2013.

  1. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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  2. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    One day it will make economic sense to gather power with solar and use the net meter system to sell it back. Until then...
  3. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    MN has net meter at the retail rate, about $0.11/kwh where I live. At assumed $4 watt total installation cost, 30% federal tax credit, no other rebates, and at annual solar kwh production for my location (6620 kwh), including assumed annual 2% electric rate increase, 2.0 to 2.5% annual inflation rate, payback is 15-17 years, well within the life span of the panels, and internal rate of return is 5-7%.

    The same money invested in a CD pays interest at about current 1% and has a negative return after inflation.

    Solar pays right now.
  4. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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  5. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    Life abounds with risks. Solar panels only represent a financial risk of modest proportions. Much greater risk with life quality implications, even terminal, is the automobile, disease, and the list goes on and on. Solar panels also have benefits beyond the financial, non-monetary benefits: no CO2, mercury, fossil fuel waste. Also, lessen the need for expansion of fossil fuel electric generation and limit the need for peak supplement to the grid. And there are more.
  6. DevilsBrew

    DevilsBrew Minister of Fire

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    I would be on the bandwagon except for the fact that I live in one of the most overcast areas of the country.
  7. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    May the sun shine on you today!
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  8. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    The long term outlook for big power companies may not be so good if solar gets much better,and cheaper. All they have to do is charge the same high tarriffs on chinese imports as they (china)charge us for everything and it will jump start the domestic industry.
  9. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Not the risk the article talks about. It is about a lot of the panels being shipped being crap that doesn't work or malfunctions after a very expensive installation.
  10. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    I read the article previously. Still a financial risk that can be managed by dealing with reputable manufacturers, albeit probably at a higher price.
  11. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    Those are all huge assumptions looking out over the next 15-17 years. Also the biggie is the government tax credit, meaning it is really a loss adding to the US federal deficit.
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  12. Where2

    Where2 Member

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    I have to agree, solar pays right now.

    As someone who is actually in the midst of installing my own grid-tied PV system, I read the article. I also realize that panel failure risks are multiplied with series wired PV systems using string inverters and high current, high voltage DC systems. With the micro-inverter setup I'm installing, I feel my risk is narrowed to a per panel basis. My voltages are a tame 29-36V DC, with under 8A output per panel and due to the nature of the micro-inverters my system will use, I will be able to monitor statistics on each individual panel.

    At a delivered cost of less than $1/W for the PV panels, the panels were actually less expensive than the incredible amount of rack structure required to install my PV system attached to a residential dwelling located in a hurricane prone area. I have 102 double lag bolted attachments to the roof trusses for a mere 20 panels. Then again, the structural engineer assessed the loads at 170MPH wind gusts, which is not out of line for South Florida. I also don't have an ordinary asphalt shingle roof under the panels. I have a Decra metal roof which should provide more protection in the event of a catastrophic panel failure. It's certainly better than having an asphalt based roofing under the panel if a panel were to fail.

    Life is a gamble, pick your game and roll the dice. The monthly return on my PV system will be far greater than letting that same $$$ sit in the bank. I have an equivalent sum sitting in a bank account, so I can watch the tangible effect of inflation, and see the regular rate hikes from my power company.
  13. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Huh? Where in PA are you? In my reading, we have a great solar resource, better than the PNW, New England, or anywhere in Europe other than Iberia and Italy.
  14. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    Im about an hour northwest of reading and in winter you can go for weeks without see the sun.
  15. DevilsBrew

    DevilsBrew Minister of Fire

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    NWPA. Places like Elkins, WV, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Erie, and Buffalo all have reps for being on the Least Amount of Sunshine/Overcast list. Most people think Seattle. Nope. We also get a ton of precipitation here.
  16. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Figured the lake shadow. We in PA DO have a lousy winter resource (unlike the Rockies), making most solar space heating projects uninteresting IMO. But the summer resource is great from a PV perspective compared to many places. Will have to look at the NW on a resource map.

    [​IMG]

    So, yeah, there is a 20% gradient across PA. Reading is fine. But it looks like even Erie is running ~70% of the PV resource in L.A. and is ahead of coastal PNW. And the Germans would still be jealous of the whole 48, the sunny south near Munich is ~3.5, Near Berlin, just 2.9.

    I've got 40-50% shading from 80' trees outside my yard, so I'm a non-starter.
  17. DevilsBrew

    DevilsBrew Minister of Fire

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    Wind would be a great resource to take advantage of here but I have read that the storage capabilities are nil. Energy would need to be used almost immediately unlike Solar. The other negative is the repair cost.
  18. briansol

    briansol Minister of Fire

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    You can use wind to charge batteries just like solar....
  19. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, I think 'rooftop wind' is a scam, and even small-scale wind (home-scale on a tall tower) is not mature or cheap.
  20. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    But it is also a monetary asset for the solar company who build and installed the system. Plus, jebatty has a non-monetary asset which is the solar system on his roof. (The corresponding liability for that are the resources used in the production of the system.) In the end, the government expanded its balance sheet to enable production of a non-financial asset (the solar system) and to add money to the private sector. I would call that a good bargain. Especially as this particular asset will mean less resource use during the years to come.
  21. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    Well, all the hype is great, but the reality is that PV solar accounts for all of a whopping (drumroll please) 0.04% of the energy produced in the US at this time. The PV energy cannot be stored like conventional electricity and it is not available on demand. So you are still relying in the conventional electric grid and power production of coal, hydro, NG and nukes. Batteries are not included...

    Also there are huge costs (to investors and the government) and risk (to owners) involved in this process in a plethora of bankruptcies in the industry. Companies like Solara, Solyndra, Scheuten, Solar Trust, Wuxi Suntech, Satcon Technology, Evergreen, Spectra Watt, Sovello, Q-Cells, Abound Solar, Konarka Technologies ... I mean, the list goes on and on and on.

    If you really want to save energy, by far the best way is to reduce the amount of electricity required. This can easily by obtained by improved efficiency, improved insulation, and reducing demand (using less by choice). We could make a massive dent in the grid demand that would come out way ahead without all of the pork barrel tax incentives and smoke and mirrors corporate invenstment schemes, political BS process and hype show. I used to install solar systems back in the late 70's after the gas crisis, and the only reason that most people bought solar technology was for the tax incentives and utility kickbacks. It has not changed. Back then as it is now, solar is the wave of the future... and it is now 40 years later. Until solar actually pays for itself without the incentives and 3 card monty schemes, it will never really have any real impact on energy production in the grand scheme of things.
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  22. Vic99

    Vic99 Minister of Fire

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    To the issue of little sunlight in the winter in PA: I'm in Massachusetts. For a grid tied system this does not matter as much. Production is so low in the winter. <20 degree F days with sunlight and some snow on the landscape to reflect make for a great combo, but the day length is so short that its only something novel to get excited about.

    The month in the spring before the leaves hit the trees really seems to ramp up production. Combo of lower temperatures and longer days. I've had my system only since late Oct 2012. However, April was my best month. May tapered a bit. I'm interested to see if longer days in June give more gain than the loss by higher temps as we approach early summer.
  23. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    I'm just talking about the multi-year average from PVWatts, which includes both day length and average cloudy weather (from an NREL database IIRC). In the midatlantic and New England, there are a larger proportion of cloudy days in the winter, and fewer spring summer and fall. The double whammy in the winter makes the (predicted) daily harvest in Dec/Jan something like a half that in Jun/July. The >2x seasonal modulation makes high solar utilization in a DHW difficult (hurting payback), and means solar space heaters are trying to work at the worst possible time. AS you are saying PV gets every bit of light available and creates value. Elsewhere in the country, the winter solar resource really gives passive solar, solar space heating and solar DHW a big boost in terms of ROI.

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