Clean Power

Published on March 14th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan


Solar #2 Source Of New Electricity In 2013 (+ More Graphs & Charts)

March 14th, 2013 by  

Reposted from Solar Love:

In an on-air Google Hangout today, Recurrent Energy CEO and Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) Chairman Arno Harris noted that more solar power capacity is projected to be installed in 2013 than from any electricity source other than natural gas. And, by 2016, solar energy may actually be the #1 source of new power for at least one year.

That’s pretty astounding. Just a handful of years ago, solar power was tremendously more expensive than other electricity sources (and nearly absent across the U.S.). But, as noted in a SEIA press release about 2012’s solar numbers, and later in the Google Hangout referenced above, the average price of solar systems has dropped 70% in the U.S. since 2000, and the past few years have seen especially steep drops.

Putting some of those points into visuals, here are some charts and graphs regarding recent solar price drops, courtesy of SEIA (click any of the images to enlarge):

installed solar price drops

solar module price drops

And here are some on solar power growth and projected growth in the U.S.:

solar power growth us

solar growth us

For more on the report released today, see:

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

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  • Johnny No 5

    • solar energy as you may be inform Germany prides itself in the biggest renewable energy market in the world, that has not lived up to expectation.

    Germany is facing a power crisis to divert the power Shortages is currently importing large amount of electricity generated from power plants in France and the Czech Republic.

    • To offset the loss of solar energy that was supposedly transform Germany’s revolution in energy needs for the 21st century.

    • It would be this policies that effect Germany, and not to be left behind Germany embarked on a technological buyout of all Australia solar energy experts in 1999, within 11 years Germany Utopia solar energy revolution now became a Black-hole money pit, of never ending.

    • German politicians are now in disarray and running from chancellor Merkel, the experts have calculated additional cost to consumers after more solar system were connected to the grid than any other previous year 2012-2013. Under Germany’s renewable energy Law each new system qualifies for 20 years of subsidies. This amounts to future payments running into trillions of dollars. And Australians face the same problem in coming months, as more costing gets passed on to the consumer from rooftop grid solar system.

    For example, Power company in NSW are facing mass losses of 42% in payments alone in revenue to renewable energy, to continue to subsidise payments which is unsustainable, will lead to bankruptcy. Even worse to come, in coming Federal liberal government policy, direct action will implement rooftop grid solar panel on every wealthy middle class home within Australia. Renewable madness has infected the party, line the rich investor’s pockets, while extorting the power market prices, which will lead to an economical disaster.

  • Bob_Wallace

    Anyone missing a few socks? Seems like the puppets are back….

    • Ross Chandler

      There’s a tool box missing a few spanners too.

  • Lisa

    Former Australian Solar Panel Billionaire Suntech on financial collapse.

    Australian entrepreneur, the former billionaire, dubbed the King of solar panel production which established Suntech world’s biggest solar power company is on the verge of financial collapse by Friday, today, New York time.

    Mr Suntech which came out of University of NSW Australia with a PhD in solar research and packed up professors from New South Wales University and established his own company in China, SunTech.

    Rumour is said that the Chinese government is forced to take over the company from Mr Suntech as he is no longer CEO; the Chinese government is removing him from CEO position of the company.

    Suntech’s future sent its New York-listed shares plunging on Wednesday after the rumour of the Chinese government takeover. Suntech revealed plans to shut its US plant in Arizona next month – just 30 months after its opening…

    It’s not clear how many financial investors being caught up in this financial collapse within Australia, or how many companies have purchased the product and no longer will receive the product for their customers, as large orders were purchased for Australian homes.

    The probability of these companies which install rooftop solar power in Australia may also collapse at the same time.

    • Ross Chandler

      The companies may collapse but the panels and the panel making industry will still be there.

      • Mark

        Well that’s just great, I got these panels on top of my 10 kW system, what’s the point of buying solar panels if there is no warranty and companies go broke before the warranty period, really good advice you giving here, I might just as well sell the solar panels on eBay, this was a very bad investment, given that there is no more warranty on the product.

        • Ross Chandler

          The larger point is that solar is unstoppable and as the industry matures the numbers of players will reduce. Selling functioning panels on ebay because you fear they might break doesn’t sound very wise when they could be saving you money.

          • nick

            I would sell my solar panels too, if it had no warranty, on ebay.

          • Ross Chandler

            I doubt that you even own solar panels.

          • @rosschandler:disqus : haha, exactly. not sure what these trolls are up to. what do they get from encouraging people to sell their panels on ebay? quite humorous. 😀

        • SolarOne

          Mark – I doubt you would have any trouble selling your panels on e-bay if you so desired. You probably could find someone local to purchase them who would be glad to come and uninstall them from your property and take them away. I suspect you would make much less than if you simply left them in place to do there designed job.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Few companies pay for a product until it is delivered In fact, it is common to not pay until well after delivery which gives the buyer time to sell the product on to the final buyer and pay the manufacturer with retail money. Thirty day, sixty day billing is common. By then panels are on roofs and customers have written their check.

      There are far more panel manufacturers than are needed. If even a few big ones disappear there will be more than adequate product for installers.

      You’ll have to find something else to concern troll about Lisa.

      • andy

        Yes, but what about warranty, all those people which purchase these solar panels are now without warranty, it’s better for them to get rid of the solar panels now, and replace the solar panels, with a manufacturer still give warranty.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Many companies purchase warranty services from third parties. They don’t service the warranty payments themselves. If the manufacturer goes under the warranty is still good,

          If an installer goes under then their labor may no longer be warranted, But installation problems should show up very soon after the switch on. Not a huge risk.

      • Lee

        It was you that said we need to install solar panel as many as possible to bring the price down, and now you have opposite opinion now, too many solar manufacturer’s, I thought the idea was the more manufacturers the better and cheaper it would be for solar panels. You like the wave of the sea, you don’t know which way you’re going or coming from, either you support solar manufacturers or you don’t?

        • Bob_Wallace

          No, you misunderstood what I said.

          We need to keep installing because as we install we find cheaper ways to do the job.

          The solar industry is at a point most industries reach. As they mature some of the manufacturers figure out how to be more efficient, to produce at lower costs, and the less efficient manufacturers are forced out of business.

          Solar panels are becoming a commodity just as happened with computers and cell phones. If you can’t turn out quality goods at a low price you go under.

          This would be a pricing problem only if so many manufacturers were forced out that we were left with an essential monopoly. Since we have had something more than 600 companies producing solar panels and around 150 are expected to fail I think we’re safe in assuming that the remaining 450 or so will be enough to keep competition humming along.

    • #1 — why are you referring to Australia when this is about the US?

      #2 — as i replied to you earlier, yes, there’s a big solar shakeout going on. as basically occurs in *all* industries, solar manufacturing is maturing — the hundreds and hundreds of companies competing in this arena now will be cut down to a handful. nothing to be surprised about.

      Suntech, despite its recent reign at the top, has run into legal problems, and of course financial problems from trying too hard to undercut the prices of its competitors.

  • beernotwar

    Something I don’t get about solar pricing. Is the cost of installing solar per KWH so much more than coal or gas that it completely eliminates the advantage of having a fuel cost of zero? There’s just a point at which operating costs for solar and wind have to be microscopic by comparison. How does this not make them the obvious choice as a long-term investment?

    • RobS

      The short answer is yes it was more expensive in the past even taking zero fuel costs into account, however grid parity has been reached here in Australia, you can not buy electricity from the grid for less then you can generate it on your own roof.

    • Bob_Wallace

      If we’re talking the real price of coal, including paying for the health costs caused by burning coal, then solar is already cheaper.

      Solar, installed at what prices are in Germany, would be only a bit more expensive than the price of new NG generation and cheaper than new coal without including health costs. We should be down to Germany’s level in a couple of years.

      Most likely the price of solar will continue to fall and the price of NG will rise. To say nothing about the cost of climate change which will be incurred if we keep on burning NG and other fossil fuels.

      Some wind farms are now producing electricity for less than what NG plants cost. That’s without subsidies. The price of wind generation should also continue to drop.

      We’re on a track to seeing wind and solar as our two cheapest ways to generate electricity – no subsidies and not charging fossil fuels for the environmental and health damage they cause.

      To get the costs down we have to keep installing them. We need to improve our manufacturing and installation processes, strengthen our supply chains, and keep improving our technology.

      Then – all those cost comparisons are made based on the first 20 years of service. The period at which capital and financing expenses are being recovered.

      After the first 20 years coal, NG and nuclear have continued, significant operating expenses. They take fuel. Wind and solar do not. Our first generation wind turbines worked well for about 30 years. Our new tech ones should go a lot longer. Perhaps 20 or more years of almost free electricity. Our oldest solar panels are now about 40 years old and are producing around 80% as much power as when they were new. 20, 30, ? more years of essentially free electricity.

      Wind and solar seem to me to be excellent long term investments.

      • Amy

        No your wrong it’s not possible to keep installing solar panels without subsidies just reading above, already yet another solar company has gone bust. The world biggest solar company production line coincidental collapse as countries like Australia cut its solar subsidies the US put up tariffs against foreign imports, yet the Arizona production plant is closing after 30 months of operation.

        You base this all upon subsidies and which you keep on installing solar panels to bring down cost yet it has a total opposite effect, take Germany it’s now importing power from France and the Czech Republic after massive amount of solar production was put in place yet failed to deliver the energy which was acquired. Your argument has no basis, given Germany now imports its energy from its foreign neighbours; you think you’re going to sustain the network with renewable energy like solar power. It’s quite clear it’s impossible to do, base on the German experiment.

        If you’re so smart and then explain why Germany importing power?

        • Bob_Wallace

          Germany sells more power than it buys.

          Get your facts straight,.

          The countries of Europe buy and sell electricity from each other and will do even more in the future. That’s how the future grid will work, get energy from where it is available at the moment. Share storage and backup generation.

          BTW, France is a major purchaser of German clean energy, especially when high temperatures cause France to shut down some of its nuclear reactors.

          Germany does buy some power from Czech Republic because they have some cheap power to sell. But Germany sells more than it buys. Has for years.

        • #1 — i was this close to trashing your comment bcs of all the misinformation in it, but you seem like a real person with real concerns, so let me provide some answers.

          #2 — there’s a big solar shakeout going on. as basically occurs in *all* industries, solar manufacturing is maturing — the hundreds and hundreds of companies competing in this arena now will be cut down to a handful. nothing to be surprised about. actually, this is all a sign of a MATURING market

          #3 — Germany is a net exporter of electricity. simple fact.

    • Altair IV

      Agreed. I’ve said before that many people look at it all wrong. Comparing the two choices by price alone ignores an important difference between them.

      Buying power from a centralized supplier will always be a COST, a drain on your income. You have to pay someone else to supply you with your electricity. However long you use it, it will always result in an ever-accumulating net loss to you.

      A solar power system, however, is an INVESTMENT; you pay a fixed cost up-front and then you get all of your electricity after that for free, i.e. you become your own supplier. Then the longer you use it, the less it costs you, as the investment gets amortized over time. At some point the benefit will balance out the initial cost, and then everything after that is gravy (barring the negligible maintenance costs).

      It’s pretty much guaranteed that eventually a home solar system must beat out the traditional model. The only question is whether the payback comes within an acceptable time frame for the buyer, and within the lifetime of the product at the very least. And that’s a question that is increasingly being answered in the affirmative.

      Remember too that money is not the only consideration involved. Non-quantitative points like energy independence, immunity to price fluctuations, added value to your home, helping the environment, and even prestige also affect the cost vs. benefit calculation too (as, to be fair, are potential negatives such as the eyesore potential and opportunity cost.)

      • Excellent comment. Might go ahead and post this as a full “Reader Post” — love it, and isn’t emphasized enough.

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