Solar Energy: Large Scale Production
Key is to connect facility to the power grid and sell
power to the consumer at a competitive rate:
De-Centralized vs Centralized Mythology
- Current costs are about 1$ per KWH for Solar
- Average price for the country from coal, hydro, nuclear,etc
is about 13 cents per KWH
Because transmission losses are low (approximately 1% per 60--100
km) a solar PV facility that is within a few 100 km of the community
is a more cost-effective investment than the decentralized model.
- Decentralized idea --> individual rooftops of homeowners
and businesses decouple the community from the power grid
- Centralized --> large facility in sunny climate is connected
to the community via transmission lines (e.g. Eastern Oregon sends
power to Willamette Valley)
How Can Solar Large Scale Production Then Occur?
- Subsidize the industry so that the goverment absorbs most
of the costs
- Wait for technological breakthrough --> amorphous silicates;
thin films ??
- Make the consumer pay the real costs of energy generated by
- TAX fossil fuel consumption !
What Large Scale Facilites Are There?
California has 90% of the current world's solar electricty production!
Conclusion: PV technology is likely to offer improved efficiency and
lower manufacturing costs over time. If subsidies can be used to offset initial
capital costs then the price to the consumer becomes competetive.
What about PV production facilities?
- Capital costs are huge
- Operating costs are trivial
- Therefore its difficult to meter the product - electricity
- PV power is not subject to price fluctuation like fuel-based
- Reliability is high; Annual variation in insolation is about 1%
and failure rate of PV's is known an an be compensated for.
- In many respects a large scale PV facility is like a hydroelectric
dam --> high capital costs, low operating costs, river flow subject
to fluctuation due to precipitation --> but Hydro is 15 times more
efficient than PV panels (so KWH costs are 15 times less!)
- PV facility is ideal for supplementing the power grid
- PV is a decreasing-cost technology as the price drops by
about 30% when manufacturing output doubles --> suggests that one
should invest in this technology now
- Polluting technologies have enormous hidden costs which
- PV plant's do fit in the corporate hierarchy!
* PV cells are small, have no moving parts and do not require large organizations to
maintain them and to schedule downtime and retrofits.
* PV cells do not need organizational support to negotiate fuel contracts and to keep
track of fuel inventories and purchases.
* PV cells cannot be dispatched and hence do not respond to traditional
Hence, rate increases should never occur for PV supplied electricity!
Read More about PVs
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