Cheaper Chinese Solar Panels Are Not Due To Low-cost Labor

New Connectors Let Solar Cells Withstand the Power of 70,000 Suns

The MSP represents the minimum price at which a company can sell its products while providing an adequate return for the company. Using industry-validated figures from the first half of 2012, they estimated an MSP of $1.19 per Watt for US solar panels, compared to $0.91 per Watt for Chinese solar panels, representing a price advantage of 23 per cent for a China-based manufacturer. But when they examined country-specific factors for this price difference, they found that China’s historical advantage of low-cost labour was counteracted by other regional influences, and that the dominant reason behind its success is primarily the scale of solar panel manufacturing in the region, enabled by access to capital and a less restrictive business and regulatory environment. The study shows that the density of production and the cost-benefit of using local suppliers give a China-based manufacturer access to cheaper materials and machinery. These scale and supply-chain advantages provide a China-based solar panel factory with a significant MSP advantage of $0.28 per Watt. Al Goodrich, Senior Analyst at NREL and lead author of the study said: “These advantages, which are not indigenous to China, could be replicated by manufacturers based in other countries if comparable scale could be achieved. “But for solar power, there’s a chicken and egg problem: consistent demand is needed to provide manufacturers with access to the capital required to achieve large scale production, but large-scale production will be necessary for solar power to compete as an energy source without subsidies.
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Rooftop solar panels become new enemy of U.S. firefighters

Scientists at North Carolina State University recently discovered that a thin film of gallium arsenide in the solar cell junctions can stop virtually all voltage loss, and let the cells work efficiently under the power of 70,000 suns. Yeah, we only have one sun, but thanks to lenses we can beef that up to at least a few thousand in concentrated power. Dr. Salah Bedair, a senior author of the study, described the accomplishment to PhysOrg this way: [It] is more than sufficient for practical purposes, since concentrating lenses are unlikely to create more than 4,000 or 5,000 suns worth of energy. …This should reduce overall costs for the energy industry because, rather than creating large, expensive solar cells , you can use much smaller cells that produce just as much electricity by absorbing intensified solar energy from concentrating lenses. So a 70,000 sun tolerance is still pretty ridiculous unless we colonize Tatooine or something.
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Solar panels to dot roof of home in Sewickley historic district

The utility is contacting contractors and customers who plan to install solar panels to make sure they know about equipment upgrades they might have to pay for. The utility is asking to be contacted before customers make arrangements to install the panels. Rooftop solar panels are providing all of the electricity consumed during some daylight hours in about 13 percent of Oahu neighborhoods, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser ( ) reported Friday. Data from the utility show about 5 percent of its customers on Oahu and Maui have installed PV systems. About 4 percent of Big Island customers have done so. Hawaii ranks third nationally in the amount of electricity generated by solar energy on a per capita basis, according to Solar Energy Industries Association . “One of the biggest challenges is that we have had this growth in the photovoltaic sector that’s been so fast and so explosive,” said Scott Seu , the utility’s vice president for energy resources and operations.
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The home was built in 1910, according to Allegheny County real estate records. Should borough leaders consider limiting solar panel use in a historic district, the Falks would be grandfathered in and wouldn’t have to make changes to suit any new laws, council member Susan Aleshire said. Across the country, California leads with the highest number of residential solar panel installations this year, according to the Washington-based Solar Energy Industries Association. Pennsylvania ranks ninth. The organization estimates that new solar electric capacity added in 2013 will generate enough electricity to power more than 960,000 homes.
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Solar power boom could mean more HECO charges

The industry also has a PR problem, following the collapse of Solyndra, the California-based solar company that declared bankruptcy in 2011 after receiving a $528 million federal loan. In every industry thats going through this maturity growth or life cycle, there are going to be businesses that dont make it that has to happen, said Hamm, calling the Solyndra debacle a political issue and not a solar one. While businesses and utilities accounted for the majority of solar work nationally in 2012 and so far this year, Leavitt said government incentives offer significant savings for homeowners cutting the cost of a home system in half. A residential system that can deliver both heat and hot water can be installed for about $10,000 after incentives, Leavitt said. Such a system, which works with a traditional gas furnace, typically cuts a homeowners annual heating bill by about a 33 percent and water heating bill by 70 percent, Leavitt said. If youre considering installing solar panels, make sure you dont plan to make roof repairs any time soon. These systems have 20-plus years of life, Hamm said. You dont want to put up a system, and then pay to have it taken down and put up again. The Solar Power International 2013 trade show runs Oct.
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Solar industry tries to shine light on misconceptions

BrandLeavitt president Solar Service Inc. poses for phonear solar hehot water panels rohis facility Niles Illinois Friday Sept. 6 2013.

“Do I think we’d have had a different outcome if we could get on the roof? Sure,” Delanco Deputy Fire Chief Robert Hubler said. Solar energy has grown rapidly over the past decade, primarily in California, Arizona and New Jersey. Risks to fire responders have prompted building codes and firefighter training, but implementation is spotty and often left to individual jurisdictions. “We are working very closely with firefighters across the United States on the development of codes and standards.
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