Our correspondent on the ground, Nick C., just got back to us with a report from ASES. We appreciate Sun Ra as well. Heres what he had to say:
It been a hot second my ninjas, but I just got back from the American Solar Energy Society conference in Cleveland Ohio. Big things are on the horizon for the solar industry, from First Solar’s announcement that they have signed contracts for in excess of 650 MW of PV at a cost of $1.88 per watt. Why is this particularly exciting? Well, right now the market price is somewhere in the range of $3.50 a Watt (http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=49298). Do your thing First Solar, is what I say. On the federal level, there is some really cool legislation being considered in both the House ( H.R. 550) and Senate (S.590) that would extent the Investment Tax Credit for solar for up to 8 years and eliminate the $2000 tax credit cap for residential solar systems. What does this all mean??? The investment tax credit (check SEIA.org) currently covers 30% of a solar systems cost for both commercial and residential applications, though there is a cap of $2000 for residential. The newly proposed legislation would extend this credit for 8 years (meaning all those capitalist banker types will be a lot more amenable to throwing investment dollars at solar) and eliminate the cap for residential systems (meaning the average systems of 3.5 kW that now costs about $35 k minus would be eligible for a credit of over $10,000 instead of the capped $2000). What’s it all mean? Each one of those dollars brings us a little bit closer to grid cost parity, energy independence and no more of that stinking, nasty coal.
From an industry growth perspective, the Prometheus Institute has recently released projections (Prometheus.org) that the solar industry will maintain its phat growth (40% that is) through 2010, that’s both production capacity and installations. That means a lot more solar, falling PV prices, and a big middle finger to the fossil fuel economy. I also attended presentations from Spectrolab that outlined their 44% efficient concentrating PV technology (http://spectrolab.com/prd/terres/cell-main.htm) And our good friends at SunPower are also introducing a 23% efficient polysilicon wafer (SunPower presentation at ASES), now given the industry standard ain’t much better than 16%, id say we should be looking for big things from SunPower and co.
All and all, while the stuffy ass reporters at the NYT, seem to think that we are way too excited about solar (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/16/business/16solar.html?_r=1&oref=slogin), I’d say they got it wrong, we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg. The growth I suspect we are looking at will be in terms of orders of magnitude (10x) rather than incremental). And as a wise ninja once said, “space is the place, and the sun is the one”
thanks to nick