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Carter Era Solar Panel Performance Amazes Owner

“The next test was more challenging”, says Holladay. “I hooked up the 54-watt blower directly to the panel. Wow! The blower started spinning at a fast clip. According to the Fluke multimeter, the blower was drawing 2.5 amps from my ancient solar panel — more power than would be expected from the factory specs”.

Most solar warranties are predicated on the idea that panels will typically lose a half percent a year in performance. That is why most solar panel warranties are for 25 years. At that point the panel is (theoretically) on average, going to be producing 12.5% less.

His was an Arco Solar Panel, Model 16-2000, that had been made in California when Carter era subsidies began the solar industry. The Arco factory’s new owner expects a little less degradation than that average annually, but he was astounded by the results. There was no change from the original specs.

“Your module is still performing to factory specifications — or perhaps a little better” said Raju Yenamandra, the North American head of sales and marketing for SolarWorld. “That’s very good. We usually tell people to anticipate a performance degradation of 0.27% per year.”

Arco sold its solar division to Germany’s Siemens in 1989, saying it wanted to return to its core business, oil. The original solar industry left the US when Republicans once again defunded the nascent renewable industry, and it was picked up by Germany and Japan.

Germany’s Siemens is now a world leader in both solar and wind, and just beat out GE to make the world-class giant turbines needed for the first off-shore wind project in the US. In 2006, on the cusp of California’s rebirth as a solar power with its AB32 climate and clean energy law imminent, Germany’sSolarWorld bought out Siemens’ old Arco solar panel manufacturing plant in California.

Image: GreenBuildingAdvisor


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writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today and Renewable Energy World.  She has also been published at Wind Energy Update, Solar Plaza, Earthtechling PV-Insider , and GreenProphet, Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.


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