Cloudy Outlook For Solar Panels: Costs Substantially Eclipse Benefits, Study Shows

IGBT

Lifer
Jul 16, 2001
17,841
88
91

ScienceDaily (Feb. 22, 2008) ? Despite increasing popular support for solar photovoltaic panels in the United States, their costs far outweigh the benefits, according to a new analysis by Severin Borenstein, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley's Haas School of Business and director of the UC Energy Institute.


In his January working paper, "The Market Value and Cost of Solar Photovoltaic Electricity Product," Borenstein also found that, even after considering that the panels reduce greenhouse gases, their costs still far outweigh their social benefits.

The bottom line, Borenstein argues in his paper, is that solar PV panels are not ready for widespread installation. Rather than subsidizing residential solar PV installations, as many states do, he favors more state and federal funding for research and...






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senseamp

Lifer
Feb 5, 2006
35,658
5,928
126
I think this company may change the economics.

http://www.nanosolar.com/

Instead of making solar panels on expensive silicon wafers, they just print them with an inkjet printer using a special process.
 

dug777

Lifer
Oct 13, 2004
24,778
4
0
But Borenstein noted that policymakers are considering a far lower price ? $20 per ton of greenhouse gases ? as the maximum that industry could be charged in proposed tradable emissions permit programs


That's not even close to any realistic modelling I've seen :laugh:
 

Ticky

Senior member
Feb 7, 2008
436
0
0
Originally posted by: dug777
But Borenstein noted that policymakers are considering a far lower price ? $20 per ton of greenhouse gases ? as the maximum that industry could be charged in proposed tradable emissions permit programs


That's not even close to any realistic modelling I've seen :laugh:
$20 per ton? How about $20 per kton!
 

dug777

Lifer
Oct 13, 2004
24,778
4
0
Originally posted by: Ticky
Originally posted by: dug777
But Borenstein noted that policymakers are considering a far lower price ? $20 per ton of greenhouse gases ? as the maximum that industry could be charged in proposed tradable emissions permit programs


That's not even close to any realistic modelling I've seen :laugh:
$20 per ton? How about $20 per kton!

The other way, batman ;)
 
May 31, 2001
15,326
1
0
Originally posted by: senseamp
I think this company may change the economics.

http://www.nanosolar.com/

Instead of making solar panels on expensive silicon wafers, they just print them with an inkjet printer using a special process.
Beat me to it, I was going to post that link. :thumbsup:

When reading articles like the one in the OP, people seem to forget that the technology is not sitting at some sort of peak which it cannot surpass, in terms of cost-to-benefit ratio, efficiency, et cetera.

On that same page:

New Plastic Solar Cell Breaks Efficiency Record

Thin-layer Solar Cells May Bring Cheaper Green Power

Efficiency Boost Makes Solar Cells Cheaper

Research Project Aims To Make Solar Energy Technology Cheaper

Iowa State Researchers Developing More Powerful Solar Cells

Yes, those articles are older than the one in the OP, but it takes a while for the new tech to reach the mainstream.

Costs will come down as the technology becomes more commonplace and refined, or else we would still be paying prices for RAM that would make people quail at the thought of upgrading. Ever buy RAM for a machine back in the 1980s?

Technology starts out expensive, and gets cheaper as it becomes more commonplace, efficient, and easier to manufacture. In twenty years, people will possible be buying cans of "spray paint" at their local Home Depot and turning sheets of plywood into solar collectors to help power their homes. For now, there are the "enthusiasts" that are on the cutting edge, that want to have the latest and greatest, and are willing to pay extra for it.
 

SunnyD

Belgian Waffler
Jan 2, 2001
32,673
142
106
www.neftastic.com
Do they fail to realize rising non-renewable energy costs in the equasion? I have a feeling that CURRENT technology will more than break even in about 10 years.
 

Vette73

Lifer
Jul 5, 2000
21,503
8
0
Originally posted by: SunnyD
Do they fail to realize rising non-renewable energy costs in the equasion? I have a feeling that CURRENT technology will more than break even in about 10 years.
Yea I was whondering that as well. There are people will mid-size to small houses in the N.East that have $1000 heating bills alone. So to pay for solar would not take long. Go to solarhouse.com to see what someone really did.
Also some areas do better with solar then others so you can't say ALL solar is not good. Same as saying heat pumps are trash because they don;t work in maine most of the time. Theres a place for a lot of things that work good in point A but badly in point B.
 

AlienCraft

Lifer
Nov 23, 2002
10,539
0
0
BULLSHIT !
They are only looking at the equation from a marketplace / profit only model.
They are not looking at TOTAL Benefit to society, simply their short term advantage.
This is why Juristic Personas are anti-social, and their concerns should not enter into the Social Dialectic.

My buddy in Rocklin , who put 44 panels on his house in 2005 has made his money back already.
Despite the fact that PG&E re-jiggered the law that requires them to "buy" excess PV power, individual Solar power co-gens are better than a centralized Coal or LNG fired central generator system. His A/C power is free and the excess is GIVEN to PG& E, regardless of the propaganda about 'selling excess back to the grid' may lead you to believe.

The New World Order doesn't want citizens to be independent from The State. So, Solar PV power will be deemed "bad" and anything that requires you to be part of a collective that they can control ( radio operated Air Conditioners, anyone?) will be the preferred pricing model.
They will use false science to support their claims and repress the people.
 

SunnyD

Belgian Waffler
Jan 2, 2001
32,673
142
106
www.neftastic.com
What I wonder - if you have an entire community that puts up panels and foots the bill for energy storage - would it be more economical for the whole community than to purchase energy elsewhere? Imagine a government incentive to create a "solar grid" across large portions of the country, only having to rely on external generation for extended periods of inclement weather - if every single house was required to put up panels.
 

BrownTown

Diamond Member
Dec 1, 2005
5,314
1
0
Well what the article says is what everyone with any knowledge of the subject already knows, namely that soalr power is rediculously expenisve. Even INCLUDING all externalities it is the most expensive of all electricty producing technologies by far. Certinally there *could* be an improvement in cost but I don't see where that is a 100% certainty, people here on AnandTech are too focused on the tech industry where you get lower prices and higher quality comming at an incredible pace. In most industries this is not the case, progress is very slow and evolutionarry and prices are always going up. The fact of the matter is that solar power is about 10 times as expensive as the conventional power sources and this is not some "New World Order" conspiracy its just a fact.

Originally posted by: SunnyD
What I wonder - if you have an entire community that puts up panels and foots the bill for energy storage - would it be more economical for the whole community than to purchase energy elsewhere? Imagine a government incentive to create a "solar grid" across large portions of the country, only having to rely on external generation for extended periods of inclement weather - if every single house was required to put up panels.
Such a plan is impossible on two fronts, first off the USA cannot afford it, secondly the infrastructure does not exist to even remotely produce that sort of demand. It would take our entire GDP for a year to pay for all that. So maybe put that as 10% of our GDP for 10 years (and 5% every year after that to pay for replacements), its physically possible and all but it would mean having to get rid of something equally expensive, like say the US governments entire descretionary budget.
 

AlienCraft

Lifer
Nov 23, 2002
10,539
0
0
Originally posted by: SunnyD
What I wonder - if you have an entire community that puts up panels and foots the bill for energy storage - would it be more economical for the whole community than to purchase energy elsewhere? Imagine a government incentive to create a "solar grid" across large portions of the country, only having to rely on external generation for extended periods of inclement weather - if every single house was required to put up panels.
Despite the fact that the current AC Grid is supplied by various means of generating Electrical power, EVERY discussion of Solar Generated PV power devolves into a one-sided unrealistic conversation where Solar is the ONLY means of generation.

This is the Straw Man / Red Herring that being puked into the conversation, derails it into obtuse discussion of a situation disconnected from reality of ANY kind.


 

SunnyD

Belgian Waffler
Jan 2, 2001
32,673
142
106
www.neftastic.com
Originally posted by: AlienCraft
Originally posted by: SunnyD
What I wonder - if you have an entire community that puts up panels and foots the bill for energy storage - would it be more economical for the whole community than to purchase energy elsewhere? Imagine a government incentive to create a "solar grid" across large portions of the country, only having to rely on external generation for extended periods of inclement weather - if every single house was required to put up panels.
Despite the fact that the current AC Grid is supplied by various means of generating Electrical power, EVERY discussion of Solar Generated PV power devolves into a one-sided unrealistic conversation where Solar is the ONLY means of generation.

This is the Straw Man / Red Herring that being puked into the conversation, derails it into obtuse discussion of a situation disconnected from reality of ANY kind.
The reality of it should be "when coupled with other legitimate energy producing resources". Hydro generates incredible amounts of energy. I would also classify nuclear as a good supplemental choice. After all, most businesses will need much more than solar can provide. I'm talking strictly about residential usage though.
 

BrownTown

Diamond Member
Dec 1, 2005
5,314
1
0
Originally posted by: SunnyD
The reality of it should be "when coupled with other legitimate energy producing resources". Hydro generates incredible amounts of energy. I would also classify nuclear as a good supplemental choice. After all, most businesses will need much more than solar can provide. I'm talking strictly about residential usage though.
However residential is the WORST place for solar in that every single house needs its own inverter to convert the DC to AC, and needs its own switching equipment and monitoring equipment to balance the load from the house with the production from the solar panels or from the outside power grid. Bascially this is just a large additional cost where you get absolutely no economy of scale since it is on a tiny residential level. Also people in residences are unlikely to know how to troubleshoot all this equipment when it breaks down and their power goes out.
 
Nov 7, 2000
16,404
3
81
i dont they they are factoring in the green-peen effect of the nutjobs that get stiffies when the slap on another panel or eek out another .13 mpg in their tin can prius. some people define themselves by this crap, that has to be worth something!
 

AlienCraft

Lifer
Nov 23, 2002
10,539
0
0
Originally posted by: SunnyD
Originally posted by: AlienCraft
Originally posted by: SunnyD
What I wonder - if you have an entire community that puts up panels and foots the bill for energy storage - would it be more economical for the whole community than to purchase energy elsewhere? Imagine a government incentive to create a "solar grid" across large portions of the country, only having to rely on external generation for extended periods of inclement weather - if every single house was required to put up panels.
Despite the fact that the current AC Grid is supplied by various means of generating Electrical power, EVERY discussion of Solar Generated PV power devolves into a one-sided unrealistic conversation where Solar is the ONLY means of generation.

This is the Straw Man / Red Herring that being puked into the conversation, derails it into obtuse discussion of a situation disconnected from reality of ANY kind.
The reality of it should be "when coupled with other legitimate energy producing resources". Hydro generates incredible amounts of energy. I would also classify nuclear as a good supplemental choice. After all, most businesses will need much more than solar can provide. I'm talking strictly about residential usage though.
I don't disagree with any of that. The issue I see is the co-mingling of Business interests with Residential NEEDS within this conversation.
Often those two are diametrically opposed despite efforts to link them by business to achieve their ends.
 

AlienCraft

Lifer
Nov 23, 2002
10,539
0
0
Originally posted by: BrownTown
Originally posted by: SunnyD
The reality of it should be "when coupled with other legitimate energy producing resources". Hydro generates incredible amounts of energy. I would also classify nuclear as a good supplemental choice. After all, most businesses will need much more than solar can provide. I'm talking strictly about residential usage though.
However residential is the WORST place for solar in that every single house needs its own inverter to convert the DC to AC, and needs its own switching equipment and monitoring equipment to balance the load from the house with the production from the solar panels or from the outside power grid. Bascially this is just a large additional cost where you get absolutely no economy of scale since it is on a tiny residential level. Also people in residences are unlikely to know how to troubleshoot all this equipment when it breaks down and their power goes out.
There is some validity to that, although it fails to take into account the increased business that those service calls generate, the increased need for technicians ( service sector economy, anyone? ;) ) the new sales of Equipment that will be manufactured in the emerging economy nations.
Some locales in the North won't be able to benefit as much as some Western States. These are the locales where Hydro or Nuclear may be called for.
That should not prevent us as a society from maximizing benefits where applicable, and substituting other technologies where needed.
The question then becomes one of which combination of technologies do we invest in, not which one is The Only Answer.
Any other debate simply paralyzes us into inaction, which is a certain failure.

Also, there is an immediate answer to the "Conversion factor" you bring up, and that's to go to a DC based system for items like LED lighting.
While not wishing to digress into the Tesla / Edison Conspiracy morass, that singular confrontation has done more to enrich the Industrialists at the gross expense of Society as a whole.
It is the carryover of this "centralization / consolidation of power" ideology that informs the current debate.
 
May 31, 2001
15,326
1
0
Originally posted by: BrownTown
Well what the article says is what everyone with any knowledge of the subject already knows, namely that soalr power is rediculously expenisve. Even INCLUDING all externalities it is the most expensive of all electricty producing technologies by far. Certinally there *could* be an improvement in cost but I don't see where that is a 100% certainty, people here on AnandTech are too focused on the tech industry where you get lower prices and higher quality comming at an incredible pace. In most industries this is not the case, progress is very slow and evolutionarry and prices are always going up. The fact of the matter is that solar power is about 10 times as expensive as the conventional power sources and this is not some "New World Order" conspiracy its just a fact.

Originally posted by: SunnyD
What I wonder - if you have an entire community that puts up panels and foots the bill for energy storage - would it be more economical for the whole community than to purchase energy elsewhere? Imagine a government incentive to create a "solar grid" across large portions of the country, only having to rely on external generation for extended periods of inclement weather - if every single house was required to put up panels.
Such a plan is impossible on two fronts, first off the USA cannot afford it, secondly the infrastructure does not exist to even remotely produce that sort of demand. It would take our entire GDP for a year to pay for all that. So maybe put that as 10% of our GDP for 10 years (and 5% every year after that to pay for replacements), its physically possible and all but it would mean having to get rid of something equally expensive, like say the US governments entire descretionary budget.
I see it as a near-certainty based on some of the advances in that area which are coming down the turnpike from specific companies. I just threw the allegory in for good measure.
 

BrownTown

Diamond Member
Dec 1, 2005
5,314
1
0
OMFG I'm being double teamed by lions :p.

But as for the whole DC and AC thing, I know you don't want to get into that, but there is a reason why AC won and thats because it is way better, DC had caught up recently due to solid state devices but AC is stil more efficient. LED lighting is good and all, same with DC flourescents and all, in fact all lights can be powered by DC. But in order to go any further then you need DC washing machines and DC air conditioners etc.. And then you just get back to the same problem of when the solar isn't running you have to power off the grid and then you need a rectifier to get DC off the grid so you haven't really saved anything there just shifted your problem.

As for assuming a great advance in technology is a "near-certainty" that seems very optomistic to me, at the very least people should understand that solar panels today are horribly expensive and barring some miracle (which depending on who you talk to might be a "near-certainty") they will remain so.
 

AlienCraft

Lifer
Nov 23, 2002
10,539
0
0
Originally posted by: BrownTown
OMFG I'm being double teamed by lions :p.

But as for the whole DC and AC thing, I know you don't want to get into that, but there is a reason why AC won and thats because it is way better, DC had caught up recently due to solid state devices but AC is stil more efficient. LED lighting is good and all, same with DC flourescents and all, in fact all lights can be powered by DC. But in order to go any further then you need DC washing machines and DC air conditioners etc.. And then you just get back to the same problem of when the solar isn't running you have to power off the grid and then you need a rectifier to get DC off the grid so you haven't really saved anything there just shifted your problem.

As for assuming a great advance in technology is a "near-certainty" that seems very optomistic to me, at the very least people should understand that solar panels today are horribly expensive and barring some miracle (which depending on who you talk to might be a "near-certainty") they will remain so.
WOHHHHH, hold up there bud. We're going for maximum effiency in my model, you're the one who shifted the problem back into the prevailing paradigm, to wit; A singular electrical system.
AC is better for motors, no?
Why not use the technology in a manner that derives the maximum benefit, rather than force everything into a singular mode?? I'll answer that for us....
Because it's EASIER for massive Corporations to deal with. They cannot act as nimbly as a smaller company might be able to, and thus they saddle SOCIETY with thier inability to cope.We do not accept that behavior from REAL persons, there is no reason to accept it from Jusitic Personas in the form of a Mutil National Corporation whose ONLY obligation is unto it's shareholders, at all other expense.
 
May 31, 2001
15,326
1
0
Originally posted by: BrownTown
OMFG I'm being double teamed by lions :p.

But as for the whole DC and AC thing, I know you don't want to get into that, but there is a reason why AC won and thats because it is way better, DC had caught up recently due to solid state devices but AC is stil more efficient. LED lighting is good and all, same with DC flourescents and all, in fact all lights can be powered by DC. But in order to go any further then you need DC washing machines and DC air conditioners etc.. And then you just get back to the same problem of when the solar isn't running you have to power off the grid and then you need a rectifier to get DC off the grid so you haven't really saved anything there just shifted your problem.

As for assuming a great advance in technology is a "near-certainty" that seems very optomistic to me, at the very least people should understand that solar panels today are horribly expensive and barring some miracle (which depending on who you talk to might be a "near-certainty") they will remain so.
I wasn't talking about a great advance in technology, I was talking about the cost, which you mentioned in your earlier post. The part which I bolded.
 

SarcasticDwarf

Diamond Member
Jun 8, 2001
9,574
0
76
Originally posted by: AlienCraft
These are the locales where Hydro or Nuclear may be called for.
As has been discussed in other threads, there is really not much room left in the US at least for large scale hydro. The country is too developed anymore. There is some room for small-scale hydro, but at least at the present time it can not make a significant impact.
 

BrownTown

Diamond Member
Dec 1, 2005
5,314
1
0
Originally posted by: AlienCraft
WOHHHHH, hold up there bud. We're going for maximum effiency in my model, you're the one who shifted the problem back into the prevailing paradigm, to wit; A singular electrical system.
AC is better for motors, no?
Why not use the technology in a manner that derives the maximum benefit, rather than force everything into a singular mode?? I'll answer that for us....
Because it's EASIER for massive Corporations to deal with. They cannot act as nimbly as a smaller company might be able to, and thus they saddle SOCIETY with thier inability to cope.We do not accept that behavior from REAL persons, there is no reason to accept it from Jusitic Personas in the form of a Mutil National Corporation whose ONLY obligation is unto it's shareholders, at all other expense.
Man, AC being better is because of one thing: transformers, you could change the voltage of AC at 99% efficiency 100 years ago and that is incredible. It means that you can produce power at a low voltage, step it up very high to transmit if over long distances (for minimal losses) and then step it back down for residential applications. It isn't some evil coorperation that allowed AC to win or some giant conspiracy that it remains now its the fact that it is simply better than DC, and now that the entire world is set up for AC power it isn't just magically going to change to make solar panels more efficienct (while screwing over everything else).
 

AlienCraft

Lifer
Nov 23, 2002
10,539
0
0
Originally posted by: SarcasticDwarf
Originally posted by: AlienCraft
These are the locales where Hydro or Nuclear may be called for.
As has been discussed in other threads, there is really not much room left in the US at least for large scale hydro. The country is too developed anymore. There is some room for small-scale hydro, but at least at the present time it can not make a significant impact.


Anytime anyone defines a parameter after the fact, the presumption then becomes one of pre-ordained results needing to be forced into compliance, rather than one of mitigating technology to be worked into a system that already consists of a multitude of technologies.

IN FACT, the main obstacle to ALL discussions of reducing the Centralized Generating Distributing AC Grid System is that it removes the stranglehold the Power Monopolies currently enjoy on the US Citizens as a whole.

Anyone need a transcript from the ENRON / CA energy debacle of 2000/2003 for a refresher on what the reality truly is?
Energy Independence is a great Election Year slogan, but as long as Corporate Interests outvote HUMAN interests in this society, we will never diversify to the extent needed to the extent we're talking about here.
 

Gothgar

Lifer
Sep 1, 2004
13,463
1
0
Originally posted by: ShotgunSteven
Originally posted by: senseamp
I think this company may change the economics.

http://www.nanosolar.com/

Instead of making solar panels on expensive silicon wafers, they just print them with an inkjet printer using a special process.
Beat me to it, I was going to post that link. :thumbsup:

When reading articles like the one in the OP, people seem to forget that the technology is not sitting at some sort of peak which it cannot surpass, in terms of cost-to-benefit ratio, efficiency, et cetera.

On that same page:

New Plastic Solar Cell Breaks Efficiency Record

Thin-layer Solar Cells May Bring Cheaper Green Power

Efficiency Boost Makes Solar Cells Cheaper

Research Project Aims To Make Solar Energy Technology Cheaper

Iowa State Researchers Developing More Powerful Solar Cells

Yes, those articles are older than the one in the OP, but it takes a while for the new tech to reach the mainstream.

Costs will come down as the technology becomes more commonplace and refined, or else we would still be paying prices for RAM that would make people quail at the thought of upgrading. Ever buy RAM for a machine back in the 1980s?

Technology starts out expensive, and gets cheaper as it becomes more commonplace, efficient, and easier to manufacture. In twenty years, people will possible be buying cans of "spray paint" at their local Home Depot and turning sheets of plywood into solar collectors to help power their homes. For now, there are the "enthusiasts" that are on the cutting edge, that want to have the latest and greatest, and are willing to pay extra for it.
that is some crazy shit... wonder why the general public doesn't know about this stuff... :confused:
 

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