What If All The Solar Business Failed?

Maybe this would happen: Everywhere you looked people are trying to get rid of stock as fast as they can. All those factories in China, Germany, Japan are closing left and right. They could not sell their stock not even at $1.30/watt because all the supports were withdrawn. Solar had to compete against .10/watt utility power.\n\nI kind of saw this happen once. Because of a poorly written piece of legislation everyone in the State of New Mexico could have as many free $10,000 solar water pumping systems they wanted. You just had to pay 1 cent of taxes and you were qualified. You had to get your system ‘so blueprints approved with a stamp by an engineer with the state energy office and he loved to do it. He was a big supporter of PV. It took them about 6 months to rewrite the legislation to end it and all these systems in downtown Albuquerque got torn down and moved out to the hills where they made perfect sense on off grid independent homes and buildings.\n

Grid tied systems

\nSo maybe this would happen. the panels installed on grid tied systems as well as the modules that could not be sold because of oversupply would migrate towards these areas as well. It would be a boom for off grid living and land developers in rural areas where no power existed. In the mountains, foothills and on islands solar would flourish like never before. Non profit organizations providing assistance to areas in need might find a lot of help for their schools, clinics, orphanages, etc. as well.\n\nI saw a map of the world one time with thousands of tiny people painted in. Most of them were huddled in offices, cars and the military and those areas were about half the earth’s surface. Those areas were all grey, and brown but on the edges of the earth where it was nice and green still where all these other people who were enjoying life so much more than the other people who were going crazy dealing with greed, lust, fame, war, etc. Some of them were actually using solar panels out there I think.\n

Solar Panels

\nAt .50 and .75/watt solar panels would provide plenty of cheap electricity for years to come. Maybe its about time to start thinking about moving out of the city. I hear Panama is nice, the Bahamas, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Colorado, Polynesia, Australia…\n\nThen after the next big disaster like a couple of super tanker spills off of Cal. and Florida and/or an oil embargo or other nightmare where there isn’t any more gasoline for no one knows how long all the funding for solar will come back into fashion and they can rebuild all those power plants reenact all the financial incentives and you can come back and get another system so you can fly back and forth from the city to go to movie theaters, grocery stores, shopping malls, golf courses, sports events and fast cars and great restaurants.

Solar Module Availability Increases as Solar Cost Decreases

At Solar Power Int. the largest solar conference in America, they said it would happen around Thanksgiving. They were wrong. It started happening about 3 weeks ago. We have been getting offers of name brand modules being available in MW quantities throughout the world. The prices range from $1.80 to $2.05/watt. The minimum order is 1 container. This is all for crystalline mono or poly.\n

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  • Thin film is $1 to a $1.15/Watt. Minimum order is (depending on who you know) 1 pallet to 1 container.
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\nAll prices are FOB Factory.\n

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  • Of course B Grade (Cosmetically imperfect – with UL and 25 year factory warranty with the same power output specifications and tolerance as A’s) will be 10 to 20% cheaper.
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  • And, C Grade (no UL, an independent 20 year warranty, but everything else the same as a B) will be 25 to 45% cheaper.
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\nFor example if A’s (Perfect) were $2/watt, B’s would be $1.75 and C’s $1.50/watt. D’s (low power, maybe unframed laminates and with cosmetic imperfections) if you can find them in resonable numbers can be 98cents to a $1.20/watt. See our price list and inventory to get a better idea. Remember an A grade solar panels has a 40 to 50 year life span, so C’s and D’s should last from 20 to 30 years, we think. Anyway we never see them again after we sell them and that’s because everyone like them, unless of course someone drove a fork lift into them. I’ll let you know a little secret you can actually buy D grade modules for as little as 50 cents/watt and if they are real small like 2 watts (great on boats to keep battery from ever going dead) you can get them for free. You just have to ask.\n\nThe one exception is BOS (all the stuff that goes along with the modules) you won’t be able to buy a Xantrex C35, C40 or C60 charge controllers for a long time and its the same for their TR line of modified sine wave inverter/chargers. This is significant because Xantrex (now Schneider) make some of the most cost effective charge controllers and inverter/chargers in the world. Its not due to demand they say its due to a parts shortage (the parts are called FETS and they use them in computers, I think, anyway I don’t believe it).\n

Solar Panels

\nSo there you have it, now that the solar panels look like they are ready to drop to world record low prices you can’t find a good cheap inverter charger or charge controller. Who wants to pay $300 to $500 for an MPPT after they’ve been paying $125 for a standard charge controller. After all if you don’t have shading problems (who installs PV arrays under shadows anyway?) you don’t even need an MPPT. Even Morningstar is sold out for charge controllers. If you find some let us know.\n\nAnyway the reason the modules are so available is because the incentives world wide are decreasing. The amount of the tax credit, refund or rebates as well as the FIT’s (Feed In Tariffs) are decreasing as well as the pace of enacting new incentives in new states here and in others areas internationally. People are getting upset about the economic changes in their lives and fighting back at government spending. It’s easy to feel pissed off but have you ever seen a chart of the incentives (tax credits) enjoyed by the oil, coal, and nuclear industry compared to the Solar Industry, its 2500 to 1! It’s all hidden in a huge bundle of legislative and legal bull woven together by about 5000 fossil fuel lobbyists and 1000’s of various Representatives and Senators over the last 75 years\n

PV Installations

\nOne area that is looking good are the RFP (Request For Proposals) for PV Installations on Schools and Universities across the country. Everyday we get a string of 5 to 15 major RFP’s for 10 to a couple hundred kilowatts of PV systems per install. 100 KW is a 40 ft. container of 200 watt modules. It’s Obama stimulus money just now showing up I guess. Frankly we haven’t been able to find the source. It ends up showing up in local newspapers. An RFP clipping service picks it up for us. Unfortunately we can’t do anything with it. The deadlines are usually like 5 days away and it has to be installed by a local contractor. I guess the bureaucracy has to make sure that a good deal of the money is wasted by acting hastily and allowing local contractors to inflate the price of the systems.\n\nNever get a single quote that includes both the installation and the system. At least have them separated otherwise you will end up paying more for the installation than for the entire system. The average cost of installing a system should be $1 to $1.50/watt but systems are selling for as much as $8/watt. Installers are getting paid more than accountants or lawyers when its your money the government is spending.\n\nJohn\n\nBy the way we just got some great deals in (about 8 more containers) so look at what we got and you should be in agreement that the pricing we just discussed is very real. Finally Never use a Grade C or D module on a high voltage system. 48, 24 or 12 volt independent power systems are totally safe to use them on but never on high voltage on=grid systems without batteries.\n\nNot all installers/contractors, lobbyists and/or politicians are bad, unfortunately the majority of them are, so don’t give up the good fight, logic ran out in Government a long time ago a friend of mine from Toronto reminded me yesterday. We intend to save this Planet for our children, they are everything we need to fight for and in the end we will win or go down fighting for solar energy and them. It’s that simple.

Misc. Solar Stuff

From our communication with the Chinese it’s clear they think and want everyone to believe that the solar market in 2011 is going to be great. I wonder why? We will see, we hope it will be, but we are watching the market closely.\n

SUN modules made with Silicon Ribbon Technology

\nWe just got in 6 containers of SUN modules made with Silicon Ribbon Technology, we are not allowed to say who we get them from, but they are cheap and beautiful and high quality as usual. They run from 200 to 215 watts mostly 17 Volts. You can see them listed under Sun Modules. They are available for approx. $1.82/ watt per module, 1.68/ watt per pallet (28) and $1.55/ watt per container. Call or e-mail Louis, Adam or john Kimball for help: 305-710-9645, [email protected]\n\nNow we are competing against ourselves: We are now negotiating for about 5000 modules from a major supplier at an extremely low price. If it happens it will alter the price per watt nationwide even at Sun Electronics, we think. We should know in 1 week. The chance of it happening is about 10%.

BAD NEWS

Conservatives take control in U.S. mid-term elections from top to bottom. STOP THE SPENDING – that may mean solar incentives. Just in the last couple of hours we have answered received  emails from Chinese manufacturers, received over the last two days, with new lower prices, even a couple companies in the U.S.\n\nEuropean Companies from Spain and Germany are also trying to get rid of product to us. It may be only a couple of cents lower per watt but we think the momentum is building for a major price decrease.\n\nWe are rethinking our strategy and we may be lowering our prices for BOS (inverters, batteries, charge controllers) (our SMA inverters are already below cost) and maybe panels as well, in some cases to “at cost” because we carry so much stock ($7M), and our financial situation is good, so we can afford it. In fact we have just hired 5 more people and added 7 new phone lines. However, unlike anyone else, we sell mostly overstocked, discontinued, slow moving, and blemished inventory we buy from suppliers such as Evergreen, GE Solar, BP Solar, Kyocera Solar, Schott, Sanyo, etc. at substantially cheaper prices than Grade A (not that we don’t stock and sell tons of Grade A). We have learned to keep less of Grade A than the discounted modules to avoid potential severe inventory devaluation when we there is a volatile drop in $/we PV prices because of a political change.\n

PV market

\nThe PV market is volatile and politically motivated (it gets votes). Who knows, maybe even conservatives will allow solar incentives to continue for fear of touching the general public’s generally hopes for a solar world. It’s hard to find too many people who put solar down except for the talking heads on MSNBC. Perhaps because the general public doesn’t understand how truly expensive it is, without the incentives. Even then you have to keep the costs at the bare minimum for a solar system to make economic sense and affordable to most people.\n\nIf you live in Haiti where electricity no longer exists or in an off grid home in area where no incentive exists, its worth it. Even our UL listed 42 watt module that only produces 2 cents of electricity a day is actually worth $42 ea. because you don’t have a choice and a Haitian can have a radio and a light. An off grid would have to turn on a noisy and very inconvenient diesel generator. But if the option is paying one cent a day in the city most people would as soon use it and flick the switch that’s already there,.. certainly least from an economical point of view. There are some great other reasons to buy solar like protecting our natural environment and ecosystems. Although a few people don’t seem to care about that as much, usually adults of course and never the kids.\n\nWe have this idea that one day a year it should be kids day (I think I have written this before),  on this day kids get to run the world. It could be sort a of a cross between take your kids to work day and a nice Halloween day of pretend. They could write down and we adults could take notes on what they would do if they were in charge. I think we would lean a lot about how messed up things are. The best ideas could then be consolidated and organized into a a great book every year for all of us to think about. If you don’t think so just ask any 4 year old what kind of house they would like to live in and then to draw a picture of it.\n\nYeah, yeah we know we’re way off the subject but I don’t think anyone reads this thing anyway. We just do it for fun. Very similar to the company, we think. What a great place to work or do an internship.

Panel Price Survey Coming Tomorrow

We are now blocked from Wholesale Solar’s and Solarhome.com’s web site. Affordable will probably be next. Anyway we have begun preparing our survey and will publish it tomorrow. It was compiled by electrical engineering students from the U.S., Japan, France and Pakistan.\n\nWe just wanted to mention that every single one of our solar panels as well as inverters are cheaper than Wholesale Solar’s, Affordable Solar’s and Solar Home’s, ( three most heavily advertised on the internet). we think. Click this blog or our home page tomorrow to click on it.

Two Of The Best Independent Public Solar Websites

My old friend Steve Klamath runs dsireusa.com which gets thousands of hits every day because it tells everyone everything about all  the solar energy incentives available including the rules and regulations in the United States.” It’s possible that they might soon have an International one pretty soon”, he told me at the most recent Solar Power Int., SPI show in L.A.Continue reading

15 40Ft. Containers Now Arriving. Why are they so special?

12 from Europe, 1 from China, 3 from the U.S. and 1 from Portugal. Suntech, DuPont, Canadian Solar, Evergreen, Kyocera and Fluitechnick from 110 to 280 watts.\n\nWhat makes these modules so special? They all have a reputation for high quality and are in great demand but for nearly all of them the price is approx. 30% less. That’s because they have minute, almost and in some cases completely invisible cosmetic blemishes. These are B and C modules and are exactly the same as regular A Grade Modules in all the most important considerations you would have for a PV module: they have a 30 to 40 year life, are almost indestructible and have a guaranteed rated output with a tolerance of approx. –5% to +5% or better.Continue reading

SUN banned from websites

I guess our prices got so low that competitor’s have now banned anyone from talking about our site or mentioning our prices. In one case they have the “Sun Electronics Rule” The host asked all bloggers on their site if they wanted to allow anyone to be able to mention us on their site. The vote was yes in order to keep it independent.\n\nThen  someone told us yesterday that after they had made several comments about solar panels and mentioned our name that the manager edited them and inserted his own company’s name and contact info as if the compliments were directed towards his own company.Continue reading

What if solar panels were sliding glass doors?

Would sliding glass doors be given detailed quality ratings, like competitors in a big Olympic event based on items such as  transparency, warranty, and  lifetime and in thousands of differnt internet sites, articles, magazines, reports, studies and research papers worldwide?\n

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  • Would they have to be certified by Underwriter Laboratories (UL)?
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  • Would they have to be approved by the California Sliding Glass Door Commission?
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  • Would they have to be approved by the Florida Sliding Glass Door Commission?
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  • Would they have other certifications to be used in Europe and other countries?
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Continue reading

Solar Power Int in Los Angeles

Solar Power Int., in Los Angeles was excellent. We cruised Beverly Hills, had drinks and listened to music and pitched ideas around for new movies at the Beverly Hills Hotel in the Polo Lounge, then headed to Hollywood  to measure handprints. The Trina Solar Party was visited by Pamela Anderson asking for donations for Haiti and we had our pictures taken with Frank and Tim of American Pickers at the airport. We also got lost looking for Venice Beach ended up surrounded by power plants and oil tanks in the middle of the night.\n\nAs usual there were ton’s of people. To get in cost $250 to $300, if you couldn’t score free ticket’s, which we did, for six, at the last minute, thanks to Christy my daughter. There were 6 of us at the show, Adam, Louis, Christy, Jeremy, Juan and myself, very funny. We rented a nice big  house in a questionable neighborhood but incredibly close to everything.\n\nToo much information, TMI, was everywhere. It was overwhelming. We saw old friends at every turn, David Katz, Sam Vander hoof, John Schaffer, Roger Efird, Tom Dwyer, Alan King, Romulo Bissetti, Jawid Shawriar, and many more.\n\nWe did not find cool new products, unfortunately. It was more  important to renew relationships and make new ones. Someone told us the Asians like to meet first and quote later so we all tried to pour on the charm. Juan Bernal was especially obnoxious with his charm, 1 word of Chinese, which he repeated insistently: shea shea,  shea shea,  shea shea.\n

We did find that solar panel prices have not changed

\nIf anything, they have increased and the problem of supply is still with us. If you want to do a quick megawatt in the next 2  months it may be hard if not impossible to get anything. Some companies, the largest are sold out for the first quarter and even one for the first half of next year. The solution still depends on Germany’s politics.\n\nMidnight and Xantrex are coming out with some some new larger charge controllers that our engineers were really excited about. The off grid product booths for smaller modules, refrigerators, batteries looked kind of slow compared to all the suits surrounding the big grid tie related product manufacturer’s booths.\n\nLot’s of big projects out there are propelling the industry along at an excellent rate. Two of our colleagues have done quite well. One is close to a possible landing of a 15 MW project in the Caribbean and another actually won a 20 MW project in California. You could sense that big projects were being discussed in booths all around. I was privileged to participate in one conversation between a large manufacturer and a client who had just won a project that was well over 200MW.\n\nThe word “Terawatt” not Gigawatt was on banners and mentioned several times in our tour around the show. I don’t even know what a Terawatt is but it’s at least 1000 Gigawatts which is a 1000 Megawatts I think. Its hard to visualize.  I can remember the installation of the United States’ first Megawatt plant. Considered an amazing feat at the time that was performed by ARCO in Carrizo Plains, Cal.  Seems like yesterday. each huge array was on a heliostat, unfortunately, it didn’t work because all the modules cooked because of the mirrors they added to the modules. I actually thought it was a plot too kill off solar energy by the oil company by making solar energy look real bad, apparently it didn’t work. All the panels worked but they turned brown form an electro chemical thermal reaction in the EVA laminate sheet. The first B modules were thus created and sold at .10 on the dollar and they were renamed Carrizo Golds by the Kusianivitchs, relatives of the Kusians, friends of mine from Tucson who grew up right down the street from my house. “It’s a small world and everything in it is connected by a gossamer thread” said Ruth Gordon (she played the nosey neighbor in Rosmary’s Baby and was a great character actress).\n\nAt the show I also ran into several more people who got hooked on solar like I did when they saw a solar oven shoot up to 300 degrees F.\n\nNow I am just totally rambling again, but honenestly, I really don’t think anyone reads this thing.\n\nHad a vision the other day as I looked up at the Sun with my eyes closed by the pool: I was standing on the Earth looking out through space through thousands of tiny stars, you could see and  feel the distance between you and the Sun. And, you saw and felt its incredible power. We will figure out how to tap into it economically without incentives sooner or later it just seemed so overwhelmingly powerful that it has to happen. It’s man’s energy source destiny, and we all know it.\n\nGod I hope nobody reads this crap. Oh well someone has to say it, it might as well be me.\n\nWhat comes after a terrawatt anyway, a cuadrawatt?