Solar Panels at 15 cents per watt

(edited)

I ran into this on a Chinese wholesale goods website. Whether this number is trustworthy is another matter, however competitive offerings are priced from 20 cents to 30 cents per watt. I've blanked out parts of the ad since I'm not promoting any particular vendor.

FifteenCentPerWattSolarPanel.png

Edited by Meredith Poor
Add a footnote.

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Meredith - the price doesn't surprise me - very likely a Chinese manufacturer going out of business in dumping the stuff - but of course it still helps to underline the general uselessness of renewable power. At that price you could get maybe a megawatt worth of PV panels for $200 - 500 megawatts, a very large installation, would be $100,000. You would pay a lot more to get them from China to your home or piece of land which (hopefully) gets enough sun to make the project worthwhile. You set them up in arrays, attach an inverter, again this would all cost far more than the panels, and work out some way to attach your power plant site to the grid. If is any distance from the city where land would be cheap, the connection would cost many time more than the total of the project to that point. You then have to persuade a distributor to buy your power. The distributor, and grid operator, will want to know about reliability - how much can you produce and when. When you respond that its about 500 MW during a few hours around noon, most days but you don't know exactly which days, and nothing at night, they will quickly lose interest. However, if there is some mad green legislation requiring them to take renewable power or else, then they may juggle the output on the aging conventional generators on the grid to take the power when its available, This reduces the efficiency of the grid overall and increases emissions at other plants which are not being run optimally, and additional capacity has to be kept on stand-by just in case clouds suddenly mask the sun, but hey its all about cheap green power right?

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11 hours ago, markslawson said:

Meredith - the price doesn't surprise me - very likely a Chinese manufacturer going out of business in dumping the stuff - but of course it still helps to underline the general uselessness of renewable power. At that price you could get maybe a megawatt worth of PV panels for $200 - 500 megawatts, a very large installation, would be $100,000. You would pay a lot more to get them from China to your home or piece of land which (hopefully) gets enough sun to make the project worthwhile. You set them up in arrays, attach an inverter, again this would all cost far more than the panels, and work out some way to attach your power plant site to the grid. If is any distance from the city where land would be cheap, the connection would cost many time more than the total of the project to that point. You then have to persuade a distributor to buy your power. The distributor, and grid operator, will want to know about reliability - how much can you produce and when. When you respond that its about 500 MW during a few hours around noon, most days but you don't know exactly which days, and nothing at night, they will quickly lose interest. However, if there is some mad green legislation requiring them to take renewable power or else, then they may juggle the output on the aging conventional generators on the grid to take the power when its available, This reduces the efficiency of the grid overall and increases emissions at other plants which are not being run optimally, and additional capacity has to be kept on stand-by just in case clouds suddenly mask the sun, but hey its all about cheap green power right?

It's all awful, unless you have storage. Utility solar costs $1 per watt these days, which means fully commissioned plants. It goes without saying that storage is essential in an RE power grid. Storage is being built. I can't speculate on how long it will take to become mainstream, but I suspect it will be faster than people think. Even the nukies are getting on the storage bandwagon.

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3 hours ago, Meredith Poor said:

It's all awful, unless you have storage. Utility solar costs $1 per watt these days, which means fully commissioned plants. It goes without saying that storage is essential in an RE power grid. Storage is being built. I can't speculate on how long it will take to become mainstream, but I suspect it will be faster than people think. Even the nukies are getting on the storage bandwagon.

For a domestic installation there are a variety of practical ways to switch usage to times when the solar is working to make better use of direct solar power

Put Refrigeration units on a timeswitch. A freezer can be switched off over night - say 02:00 to 09:00 to shift that demand to day time Switch a refrigerator off at 5:00 and back on at 9:00. 

Put other other charging devices on a timeswitch and charge in the day time. 

Divert surplus solar to water heating

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11 hours ago, Meredith Poor said:

It's all awful, unless you have storage. Utility solar costs $1 per watt these days, which means fully commissioned plants. It goes without saying that storage is essential in an RE power grid. Storage is being built. I can't speculate on how long it will take to become mainstream, but I suspect it will be faster than people think. Even the nukies are getting on the storage bandwagon.

Again I have to bring bad news. There would have to be a massive increases in battery production and an equally spectacular price drop for batteries to even begin to make a difference on a grid scale. Then there are all the problems of disposing of the toxic materials at the end of the battery's life.. Difficult to see how this could happen in our life times but then I thought mobile phones would never come into wide spread use. Maybe something will happen, but until it does we're stuck with conventional technology.. don't hold your breath..  

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9 hours ago, markslawson said:

Again I have to bring bad news. There would have to be a massive increases in battery production and an equally spectacular price drop for batteries to even begin to make a difference on a grid scale. Then there are all the problems of disposing of the toxic materials at the end of the battery's life.. Difficult to see how this could happen in our life times but then I thought mobile phones would never come into wide spread use. Maybe something will happen, but until it does we're stuck with conventional technology.. don't hold your breath..  

Batteries would have to become the size of oil storage tanks, which could be as high as 25 feet and 300 feet in diameter. Some of the 'toxic' materials are no more than sodium and chlorine. We deal with toxic materials every time we eat - caffeine's biological purpose to the coffee plant is to kill bugs. Not to mention 2.5 micrometer particulates emitted from coal plants and sulfuric acid and Nox from diesels.

The scale on which industrialized societies use energy mandates enormous power retention in one form or another - gas 'jugs' for natural gas, oil tanks for oil, square miles of water for hydropower. Why would anyone be surprised about a 'Cushing' hub for electric power storage? Look up Paducah (Kentucky) centrifuge plant. This would be one good place to situate such a hub.

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4 hours ago, Meredith Poor said:

Batteries would have to become the size of oil storage tanks, which could be as high as 25 feet and 300 feet in diameter. Some of the 'toxic' materials are no more than sodium and chlorine. We deal with toxic materials every time we eat - caffeine's biological purpose to the coffee plant is to kill bugs. Not to mention 2.5 micrometer particulates emitted from coal plants and sulfuric acid and Nox from diesels.

The scale on which industrialized societies use energy mandates enormous power retention in one form or another - gas 'jugs' for natural gas, oil tanks for oil, square miles of water for hydropower. Why would anyone be surprised about a 'Cushing' hub for electric power storage? Look up Paducah (Kentucky) centrifuge plant. This would be one good place to situate such a hub.

Exactly. Static storage does not need to have high power densities like car batteries. Might as well use Sodium. There is 12kg of that in every m3 of seawater so no supply bottle necks there¬¬

Once the scale of EV's becomes greater there will be an extensive supply of second hand EV batteries that can have a second life and will last decades as stationary storage. 10,000 Nissan Leaf Batteries that have degrade to 50% capacity can still hold 120 Mwh and deliver up to 800 MW in short bursts so they make excellent short term grid stabilisers.

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23 hours ago, markslawson said:

There would have to be a massive increases in battery production and an equally spectacular price drop for batteries to even begin to make a difference on a grid scale.

This is already happening.  The latest I read was that lithium-based batteries are already under $100.00 per watt.  But for grid storage, you don't need lightweight materials, because it is sitting on the ground.  Therefore, there are a lot of materials that could be used which are much cheaper, can be recharged more times and last longer.

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13 hours ago, Meredith Poor said:

Batteries would have to become the size of oil storage tanks, which could be as high as 25 feet and 300 feet in diameter. Some of the 'toxic' materials are no more than sodium and chlorine. We deal with toxic materials every time we eat - caffeine's biological purpose to the coffee plant is to kill bugs. Not to mention 2.5 micrometer particulates emitted from coal plants and sulfuric acid and Nox from diesels.

 

9 hours ago, NickW said:

Exactly. Static storage does not need to have high power densities like car batteries. Might as well use Sodium. There is 12kg of that in every m3 of seawater so no supply bottle necks there¬¬

 

36 minutes ago, Okie said:

This is already happening.  The latest I read was that lithium-based batteries are already under $100.00 per watt.  But for grid storage, you don't need lightweight materials, because it is sitting on the ground.  Therefore, there are a lot of materials that could be used which are much cheaper, can be recharged more times and last longer.

Sorry guys, I really hate to burst your bubbles, but you've all descending into fantasy. This is common in renewable energy. When the debate first started there were plenty of people waving around computer simulations claiming that renewable energy would be very cheap, and that the wind towers just had to be spread over a wide enough area to solve all problems of intermittency. Now reality has hit home and the fantasy has shifted to talk of batteries the size of oil storage towers. Sure you could build such a thing at an enormous cost and dispose of the toxic materials later, as they are not that toxic really - they'd poison only a small area - but think for a moment. Molten salt is used to store energy, as heat, in solar generators - I suspect that's a more efficient use than any battery, and certainly one where weight is not an issue. Just how many such generators have been built? A handful maybe, with no sign that the count is accelerating, at least not in anything like the numbers required. Same for batteries. Sure you can point to a battery here and there, but again in nothing like the numbers that would even begin to make a shred of difference. No one has seriously suggested batteries for grid-scale storage incidentally. They have a role in balancing and frequency management and so on. There is a lot more I could say, particularly about battery life but you should by now have an idea of the total ridiculousness of this debate. Anyway, if you want to indulge in more fantasy that's fine, I'll leave you to it.  

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3 minutes ago, markslawson said:

Sorry guys, I really hate to burst your bubbles, but you've all descending into fantasy.

I'm curious if you are familiar enough with chemistry to understand how much energy it takes to break a Carbon-Oxygen double bond, or the Oxygen-Hydrogen single bond? If we're all believing in fairy tales, you should have the math and chemistry background to support your assertion. This means explaining the math in public forums, not simply saying - 'Well, I took it in college'.

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6 hours ago, Meredith Poor said:

I'm curious if you are familiar enough with chemistry to understand how much energy it takes to break a Carbon-Oxygen double bond, or the Oxygen-Hydrogen single bond? If we're all believing in fairy tales, you should have the math and chemistry background to support your assertion. This means explaining the math in public forums, not simply saying - 'Well, I took it in college'.

Every Mark Lawson post seems to be preceded by.

Sorry guys, I really hate to burst your bubbles...

 

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6 hours ago, markslawson said:

 

 

Sorry guys, I really hate to burst your bubbles, but you've all descending into fantasy. This is common in renewable energy. When the debate first started there were plenty of people waving around computer simulations claiming that renewable energy would be very cheap, and that the wind towers just had to be spread over a wide enough area to solve all problems of intermittency. Now reality has hit home and the fantasy has shifted to talk of batteries the size of oil storage towers. Sure you could build such a thing at an enormous cost and dispose of the toxic materials later, as they are not that toxic really - they'd poison only a small area - but think for a moment. Molten salt is used to store energy, as heat, in solar generators - I suspect that's a more efficient use than any battery, and certainly one where weight is not an issue. Just how many such generators have been built? A handful maybe, with no sign that the count is accelerating, at least not in anything like the numbers required. Same for batteries. Sure you can point to a battery here and there, but again in nothing like the numbers that would even begin to make a shred of difference. No one has seriously suggested batteries for grid-scale storage incidentally. They have a role in balancing and frequency management and so on. There is a lot more I could say, particularly about battery life but you should by now have an idea of the total ridiculousness of this debate. Anyway, if you want to indulge in more fantasy that's fine, I'll leave you to it.  

As usual you choose to over look the fact that there will be an ever increasing supply of spent EV batteries which will have decades of life left in them for stationary storage. 

In part I'd agree with you that Batteries are not scalable for inter-seasonal storage and are  therefore best suited to short term operating reserve and diurnal storage functions. This is where battery role out is largely being deployed to replace inefficient OCGT or diesel gensets which operate as STOR. 

On the renewable front:

Solar is already at parity with end user costs, often cheaper without any subsidy in many parts of the World. 

Utility scale onshore wind needs little or no subsidy to compete with conventional generation

Offshore wind costs are falling rapidly. 

 

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2 hours ago, NickW said:

As usual you choose to over look the fact that there will be an ever increasing supply of spent EV batteries which will have decades of life left in them for stationary storage. 

In part I'd agree with you that Batteries are not scalable for inter-seasonal storage and are  therefore best suited to short term operating reserve and diurnal storage functions. This is where battery role out is largely being deployed to replace inefficient OCGT or diesel gensets which operate as STOR. 

On the renewable front:

Solar is already at parity with end user costs, often cheaper without any subsidy in many parts of the World. 

Utility scale onshore wind needs little or no subsidy to compete with conventional generation

Offshore wind costs are falling rapidly. 

 

Nixon, Reagan, and Bush Jr., among others, are on record as describing oil dependence as a national security issue. So were they all living in a 'Fantasy World' for a day that would never come?

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On 5/5/2019 at 6:28 PM, markslawson said:

Meredith - the price doesn't surprise me - very likely a Chinese manufacturer going out of business in dumping the stuff - but of course it still helps to underline the general uselessness of renewable power. At that price you could get maybe a megawatt worth of PV panels for $200 - 500 megawatts, a very large installation, would be $100,000. You would pay a lot more to get them from China to your home or piece of land which (hopefully) gets enough sun to make the project worthwhile. You set them up in arrays, attach an inverter, again this would all cost far more than the panels, and work out some way to attach your power plant site to the grid. If is any distance from the city where land would be cheap, the connection would cost many time more than the total of the project to that point. You then have to persuade a distributor to buy your power. The distributor, and grid operator, will want to know about reliability - how much can you produce and when. When you respond that its about 500 MW during a few hours around noon, most days but you don't know exactly which days, and nothing at night, they will quickly lose interest. However, if there is some mad green legislation requiring them to take renewable power or else, then they may juggle the output on the aging conventional generators on the grid to take the power when its available, This reduces the efficiency of the grid overall and increases emissions at other plants which are not being run optimally, and additional capacity has to be kept on stand-by just in case clouds suddenly mask the sun, but hey its all about cheap green power right?

Umm there seems to be a math error or three here. Perhaps you meant to say a megawatt for $200k instead of $200? Most homes have 200 amp service at 220 volts, for 44 kw power consumption, which rarely if ever occurs, unless you're growing wacky tobaccy. I have friends who have put in rooftop solar, installed for about $10 per watt. Depending on the size of the roof and the amount facing south, you might get to install about 6 to 10 kw (400 watts of PV is about one square meter). On a sunny day that might be half your power consumption. That's the first year, but there's a depletion curve for photo voltaic of at least 10% depending on initial quality (Chinese quality is iffy on a good day). That means under the exact same conditions, your 10kw installed system will only be about 5kw after 7 years. That company you bought everything from with a lifetime guarantee? Out of business. My friend wasn't very happy when I pointed all this out to him, but hey, he's got a shiny looking roof and all the green cred a guy can have in the neighborhood. 

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(edited)

I think all you fellows are overlooking that batteries, however formulated, are likely NOT going to be the storage solution for either wind or solar or anything else.  If you want to "store energy," then the logical solution is to do so mechanically.

A number of possible solutions have already been suggested.  One is in widespread use; that is pumped-storage hydro.  You have these pumped-storage plants all over the place, all you need is a big supply of water at the bottom  (usually a river), and big lake at the top, and lots of vertical drop.  Your storage is in the vertical drop,you are using the potential energy in the top-lake water being converted into kinetic energy by falling, and running through the generator vanes at the bottom.  You can store vast amounts, you can tap it out in vast currents, and it is reasonably cheap to build.

The other mechanical storage out there is the inclined railway.  The Railway has a string of ore cars filled with rocks, to make them nice and heavy.  A hefty cable runs to the top of the mountain.  With excess power, the electric motor pulls the ore cars up the mountain.  When you want to tap into all that stored energy, you release the brakes and the pull on that spooled cable turns your generator, unleashing as much current as you want.  

A third approach is compressed air, basically a gigantic hydraulic accumulator.  Accumulators are really great, they allow excess energy to be stored up inside a compressed bladder, then to be released in a spurt to create all the short-term power you could possibly want.  You see these devices on for example injection molding machines, where certain functions require power spurts (the injection phase; the opening and closing of the mold phases).  Works like a charm. In the compressed-air solution, falling water into a large cavern takes air with it and compresses it in the bottom cavern, before the water itself rises and lows out the exit hole.  The air is continually being compressed and stored, to be tapped out through a pipe from the top of the cavern.  Woks like a charm.

My personal storage preference is the flywheel, but hey, that's just me.  You fellows can build whatever you like.  I just don't see batteries standing up financially against mechanical solutions, and mechanical solutions have the inherent advantage of no maintenance, effectively indefinite life, and no ultimate-disposal costs.  

Edited by Jan van Eck
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2 hours ago, Jan van Eck said:

I think all you fellows are overlooking that batteries, however formulated, are likely NOT going to be the storage solution for either wind or solar or anything else.  If you want to "store energy," then the logical solution is to do so mechanically.

It's all of the above.  Batteries for where these mechanical means do not work and mechanical means where batteries are impractical or too expensive.  But not everywhere can do mechanical.  Then you have to look at the lifetime cost and maintenance costs.  There are also cheap batteries (lithium ion is relatively expensive).  It is whatever works, as far as I am concerned.

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On 5/11/2019 at 6:07 PM, Ward Smith said:

Umm there seems to be a math error or three here. Perhaps you meant to say a megawatt for $200k instead of $200? Most homes have 200 amp service at 220 volts, for 44 kw power consumption, which rarely if ever occurs, unless you're growing wacky tobaccy. I have friends who have put in rooftop solar, installed for about $10 per watt. Depending on the size of the roof and the amount facing south, you might get to install about 6 to 10 kw (400 watts of PV is about one square meter). On a sunny day that might be half your power consumption. That's the first year, but there's a depletion curve for photo voltaic of at least 10% depending on initial quality (Chinese quality is iffy on a good day). That means under the exact same conditions, your 10kw installed system will only be about 5kw after 7 years. That company you bought everything from with a lifetime guarantee? Out of business. My friend wasn't very happy when I pointed all this out to him, but hey, he's got a shiny looking roof and all the green cred a guy can have in the neighborhood. 

50% degradation in 7 years....

More like 0.8-0.9% per annum

Show your mate this instead. 

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/pip.2744

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, NickW said:

50% degradation in 7 years....

More like 0.8-0.9% per annum

Show your mate this instead. 

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/pip.2744

Sounds like the usual BS. No original work, just statistics, and to muddle things up even further, they're comparing Real measurements with meaningless simulations! 

Quote

Significant deviations for beginning‐of‐life measurements with respect to nameplate rating have been documented over the last 35 years. Therefore, degradation rates that use nameplate rating as reference may be significantly impacted. Studies that used nameplate rating as reference but <b>used solar simulators </b>showed less variation than similar studies using outdoor measurements, even when accounting for different climates

Sounds like some climate scientists are doing "work" on the side. 

Meanwhile, you should look at this industry site and be sure to click on the links to the left for individual error modes. 

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7 minutes ago, Ward Smith said:

Sounds like the usual BS. No original work, just statistics, and to muddle things up even further, they're comparing Real measurements with meaningless simulations! 

Sounds like some climate scientists are doing "work" on the side. 

Meanwhile, you should look at this industry site and be sure to click on the links to the left for individual error modes. 

Facts do not tally with my bluster  - does not compute - does not not compute - does not compute.......

 

meanwhile in real world

https://www.engineering.com/DesignerEdge/DesignerEdgeArticles/ArticleID/7475/What-Is-the-Lifespan-of-a-Solar-Panel.aspx

PV, the degradation rate is less than 0.5% for panels made before 2000, and less than 0.4% for panels made after 2000. That means that a panel manufactured today should produce 92% of its original power after 20 years, quite a bit higher than the 80% estimated by the 1% rule.

https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy12osti/51664.pdf

Nearly 2000 degradation rates, measured on individual modules or entire systems, have been assembled from the literature, showing a median value of 0.5%/year.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/pip.3043

Our analysis indicates that the solar modules degraded at a rate of ~0.7%/year because of discoloration and weakened solder bonds.

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14 minutes ago, Ward Smith said:

Sounds like the usual BS. No original work, just statistics, and to muddle things up even further, they're comparing Real measurements with meaningless simulations! 

Sounds like some climate scientists are doing "work" on the side. 

Meanwhile, you should look at this industry site and be sure to click on the links to the left for individual error modes. 

Anecdotal here but I have 440w of 2009 vintage solar panels sitting on the roof of my deceased fathers house. I put them there when I went abroad and grid connected them through one of these. 

http://www.smartgreenenergycompany.com/mastervoltsoladi.html

Lying flat (not ideal at 51 degrees latitude) in the midday sun the 440W of panels were producing just over 300W which indicates their degradation over the past decade has been minimal - perhaps 5-6%. 

 

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On 5/8/2019 at 8:01 AM, markslawson said:

Sorry guys, I really hate to burst your bubbles, but you've all descending into fantasy. 

I agree with you. In fact, Arthur C. Clarke put it this way, "Science, sufficiently advanced, will seem like magic [fantasy]." So, if you are saying that science has to advance for us to have massive, reliable, cheap electric storage systems (a current fantasy/magic), I agree.

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As a biologist, I like to look at biology as an example of workable solutions.

1. Batteries: Bodies use sodium, potassium, and calcium as our main electrolytes, as well as magnesium, phosphorus, and chlorine. With big, mobile batteries, I see us headed this way.

2. Energy storage: So far, we have discussed two: chemical batteries and mechanical. I think a third type may be the answer, the same solution the body uses: fat, i.e., hydrocarbons. Wait! Aren't we trying to get away from that? The difference would be that we would have a closed a system.

a. The system would be filled with a hydrocarbon gas, like methane, ethane, propane, etc.

b. It would be processed to get the energy from it. Since it is a closed system, the byproducts, carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen would be captured in the closed system.

c. We would then use excess electricity from renewable energy (solar, wind, hydro) to convert the byproducts back into our chosen hydrocarbon.

We already have one such plant in Squamish, British, Columbia. However, that uses carbon pulled from the air. A closed system would probably be cheaper. I couldn't find any cost per MW, since the current goal is to simply remove CO2 from the air. This would currently cost $94-$232 per ton of CO2 and a typical factory would produce 300 million gallons of fuel per year.

However, when some research is switched to simply energy storage in a closed system, the costs should be less and decline over time. The energy recovery should also increase over time. Even if we only recover only 20% of the energy in the beginning, if we can get to 80% in 20 - 30 years, this would be a great energy storage system.

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On 5/12/2019 at 3:07 AM, Ward Smith said:

Umm there seems to be a math error or three here. Perhaps you meant to say a megawatt for $200k instead of $200?

No - I'm just going by the price in the original ad. I'm sure you're pricing is correct and the ad is wacked out nonsense, but I'm just using the price as an illustration of, okay, say if you are able to buy the panels for virtually nothing but they are still next to useless in grid sale power, without some very favourable laws. This is different again to any home solar system, the profitability of which would depend on feed in tariffs in the state, which I wouldn't know much about..   

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