The Era Of Ultra-Cheap Solar Panels Is Over

The amount of energy a solar cell generates is enough to 'replicate itself' in a matter of days. 'Replication' means reducing SiO2 (silicon dioxide) to pure Si. Silicon dioxide is the otherwise known as quartz, including sand. It is also most of the makeup of granite.

The raw material for solar cells is the most common element in the earth's crust after oxygen. The next most common element is aluminum, which one finds in solar panel framing. Silicon is also used in the glass. What is left is silver (for the collector traces) and copper, for the wiring between the panels. The doping agents vary, but two common ones are phosphorus and boron. There is no meaningful raw material constraint on the supply of solar cells.

The cost constraint is therefore process driven - what it takes to make sufficiently pure silicon, to grow the silicon crystal, to test and grade the cell after it is produced, and so forth. All of this is subject to continuous improvement and economies of scale.

There are short term influences on solar pricing such as subsidies, tariffs, supply bottlenecks, etc. In the longer term however, silicon PVs will become as cheap as plastic soda bottles. At 20 cents per watt, a 6Kw panel array (not including inverters, mounting, etc.) appropriate for a typical house now costs $1200. Such a household probably spends $1200 per year at 10 cents per Kwh.

If someone wants to see the math, I'll show the chemistry behind this assertion.

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Solar PV costs expected to be cut in half by 2020

 January 18, 2018

Solar PV electricity costs have fallen 73% since 2010, according to a new cost analysis from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Furthermore, solar PV costs are expected to be cut in half by 2020. The best solar PV projects could be delivering electricity for an equivalent of three cents per kWh or less within the next two years.

Global weighted average costs over the last 12 months for solar PV now stand at six cents and 10 cents per kWh respectively, with recent auction results suggesting future projects will significantly undercut these averages.The current cost spectrum for fossil fuel power generation ranges from five to 17 cents per kWh.

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9 hours ago, Sciencefirst said:

Solar PV costs expected to be cut in half by 2020

 January 18, 2018

...The best solar PV projects could be delivering electricity for an equivalent of three cents per kWh or less within the next two years....

Keyword search 1.7 cents per Kwh. The all time low record for renewable electricity is 1.7 cents. Prices in Texas for wind power average around $20 per Mwh (Ercot.com real time display), or 2 cents per Kwh. We're already well below 3 cents per Kwh at the wholesale rate.

ERCOTRealTime20170223FreePower.png

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Yeah, solar domination will become apparent to everyone in the next few years. They're even moving to carbon panels in the near future, which are like 90% efficient.

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