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Solar future brightens as oil soars
Ashley Seager, The Guardian
Soaring oil prices have led to such a boom for solar power that the industry could operate without subsidies in just a few years, according to industry leaders. At the solar industry trade fair in Munich over the weekend, there was growing confidence that the holy grail known as “grid parity” – whereby electricity from the sun can be produced as cheaply as it can be bought from the grid – is now just a few years away.
Solar photovoltaics (PV), which convert sunlight into electrical power, have long been dismissed as too expensive to make a meaningful contribution to the battle against climate change. But costs are falling as PV production booms, and with electricity prices rising rapidly in line with soaring oil and gas prices, demand for solar panels is increasing sharply.
Germany, the world leader in PV thanks to its “feed-in tariff” support, installed 1.1 gigawatts of capacity last year – the equivalent of a large power station. It now has nearly half a million houses fitted with PV panels.
(16 June 2008)
Brighter future for solar panels: silicon shortage eases
Ben Arnoldy, Christian Science Monitor
New factories could end a production logjam. But consumers may not see prices drop before 2010.
Quartz, the raw material for solar panels, is one of the most abundant minerals on earth. But for years, the solar industry has faced a bottleneck in processing quartz into polysilicon, a principal material used in most solar panels. The problem stalled a steady decline in prices for solar panels.
Now the silicon shortage may be coming to an end, predict some solar analysts, thanks to new factories coming online.
If true, the price for solar panel modules could start falling by as much as a third by 2010, says Travis Bradford, president of the Prometheus Institute for Sustainable Development in Cambridge, Mass. That’s good news for an industry that remains one of the most expensive power sources.
Global demand for solar panels is growing at about 50 percent per annum, says Mr. Bradford, but the polysilicon supply for solar will grow by 80 percent for each of the next couple of years.
(5 June 2008)
Solar prices set to slump
This is the year that the cost of electricity from solar power will drop below the cost of grid-generated power.
The long-awaited fall in the cost of solar power is just around the corner. As huge amounts of additional manufacturing capacity come on stream over the next few months, the price of grid-electricity continues to rise.
Prices for solar components are set to drop by next year from about $3.80 per watt to about $1.40 a watt. According to Dean Cooper, an analyst at Ambrian Capital, the global manufacturing capacity for solar modules is set to increase “dramatically”, from 3 gigawatts last year to 15 to 20 gigawatts of production by 2010.
Much of the growth is coming from China.
(2 June 2008)
Contributor Joseph Neri writes:
Coming just in the nick of time as several states have already mandated that utility companies buy more power from renewable sources.