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If/when the market for PV gets bigger, they'll move to silicon production dedicated to PV cells where energy input is likely to be way smaller and prices will go down big time too (since they won't compete with silicon-gold-chips for this ressource anymore).

The problem is that chip production is so massively profitable that PV will have a hard time matching it, no matter how popular it becomes.

I'm not expecting PV to take off until/unless it starts using a less demanding technology. It really needs to drop maybe 90% of its current price to become a viable everyday power source - even assuming a significant drop in demand.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 14th, 2007 at 03:30:07 PM EST
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Let's study the to be built Victoria PV station, technology choosen being mirrors concentrating sun on small patch of satellite tech PV:


It is announced at a price of 11.3 USD per installed effective watt (I took fx 1 AUD = 0.83 USD).

Effective watt = wh effectively produced over a year divided by hours in a year, here effective is 20% of rated watt-peak taking into account day/night/clouds/etc... according to their published data.

The published data from Jerome offshore windfarm:


378 millions euros for 120 MW peak, 40% load efficiency (from Jerome comment in the discussion) makes it to 10.7 USD per installed effective watt (1 EUR = 1.36 USD).

Price of installed effective watt does not take into account financing and maintenance.

So we have to compare maintenance cost over the next N years of an on-shore bunch of mirrors and off-shore wind farm. And also to compare photovoltaic expected lifetime (we know that old tech lasted 23 years in hostile polluted environment loosing only 10% of output and probably no maintenance at all) and the offshore windfarm lifetime.

Does that make 11.3-10.7=0.6 USD per installed effective watt? I think so.

So all in all I'd say according to published numbers concentrated solar PV can already be cheaper than wind.

by Laurent GUERBY on Tue Aug 14th, 2007 at 05:27:37 PM EST
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Plus we're comparing first of its kind solar plant vs quite mature offshore wind farm technology so it's likely future prices will fall more on the solar side than for offshore wind.
by Laurent GUERBY on Tue Aug 14th, 2007 at 05:31:00 PM EST
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PV using dedicated silicon wafers is starting about now. These wafers will have way more impurities than VLSI grade wafers, and the PV will go down a bit in yield, but the panels should be much cheaper after a couple of years (like 2-3 times per peak watt I expect). Also, they will be decoupled from VLSI economic cycles (by which production of PV basically stopped whenever their was an expansion of the microchip business, every 3 years or so)

by Pierre on Tue Aug 14th, 2007 at 07:21:30 PM EST
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Yeah, this is definitely the big next step for PV from an economic standpoint.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Wed Aug 15th, 2007 at 01:23:40 PM EST
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