by Neal Dikeman
The other night I answered an ad on Craigslist. Not surprising, since buying and selling things on craigslist is kind of my hobby. But this one was for solar panels. 180 Wp panels from a wholesaler. Offering for $190 ea if I bought one, or $180 if I bought 20 or more, and $170 if I bought 100.
Not name brand, but 17% efficient monocrystalline 180 Wp 25 year warranty product.
Holy smokes, residential panels for $1/Wp? So, add 3.5 kW inverter for $2300 (list price off the web of a name brand inverter), and a bit of steel and mountings and labor, and I can put 3.5 kW of PV on my roof for <$9k UNSUBSIDIZED? Without getting fancy on the math, that’s an amortized cost of 7 cents a kwh at the warrantied life, cheaper than my 11 cent Texas power now. Payback’s weak, c 13-15 years, again thanks to my cheap Texas power. But knock a third off in tax credits, add some back for inverter replacement and contingencies, and damn, this is really, really close. Payback maybe down into the 8-10 year range with a little luck and good design.
|Kwh/Yr||5,250||3.5 KW Panels||$ 3,500|
|3.5 KW inverter||$ 2,300|
|$/Wp Installed||Cost Installed||Other materials||$ 1,000|
|$ 2.50||$ 8,750||$ 6,800|
|Avg Degradation Factor over Life|
|Yrs Life||Total Kwh Life|
|Amortized Cost / Kwh|
I think I may need to get a couple of bids for my house.
And if you think this is just because I’m looking at wholesale numbers, GreentechMedia did a review of module costing estimates for 2013, WAY down, below 70 cents a Wp, which would certainly support this case.
So let me put it this way:
When it comes to solar photovoltaics, we may not be quite there yet on costs. But we’re awfully close. This is real. Not just for top tier time of use pricing in California. But for the Texas Gulf Coast.
And it’s here now, not aspirational. And it really is a gamechanger.
Right now the solar industry is in the throes of overcapacity and price wars, and struggling to make margin. But those capacity wars are wringing the weak players and the high cost ninnies out of the market. Making everyone get lean and mean.
By 2015 at latest we’ll likely hit our cost real tipping point for the mainstream end user. Even with cheap natural gas. And when we do, manufacturing and install capacity will not be able to keep up. We’ll have another war on our hands. The war for the home power bill.