The collapse in prices for solar panels can fuel a revolution


07/02/2012

For solar energy firm reputation as an expensive pleasure. But already there are signs of radical change this state of affairs. In India, the electricity produced by solar panels, today it was cheaper than the one obtained from diesel generators. This factor will enable India to achieve the goal of 20 000 megawatts of solar power by 2022. In addition, it could be a turning point for other developing countries.

Recent estimates of market analysts Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), showed that prices for solar panels have fallen by almost 50 percent in 2011. They are now only a quarter of the price in 2008. This can make them accessible to many people in developing countries.

A quarter of people in India do not have access to electricity, according to the International Energy Agency in 2011. And those who were lucky enough to be connected to a national power grid, have to put up with regular power cuts. In order to somehow cope with this problem in many homes and in factories set diesel generators. But this solution has a downside. Burning diesel not only creates carbon dioxide emissions leading to global warming, but also leads to the release of other hazardous substances that cause a variety of diseases ranging from respiratory and heart and ending oncology.

Falling prices for solar panels could lead to the popularity of the generators will decline. In India, the price of electricity produced by solar panels, fell to 8.78 rupees per kilowatt-hour, while the price of diesel is 17 rupees. Such a drop in prices is not due to improvements in the efficiency of solar panels: industrial panel still convert 15 to 18 percent of solar energy into electricity. The fact is that the price has dropped significantly in their production, so their low efficiency has ceased to be a stumbling block to their widespread distribution.

Jenny Chase, head of solar analysis of BNEF, explained that the whole point scale. In 2011 the company produced a number of panels, which allows for 27 gigawatts, up from 7.7 gigawatts in 2009. According to Chase, solar energy is already cheaper than diesel, "wherever the sun is not less than in Spain." This is quite an extensive area includes Latin America, Africa and Asia.

"We have been supplying our products to Asia and the Middle East," - said Bjorn Emde, a representative of the largest manufacturer of silicon panels, the company Suntech, in Europe. Over the next few years, they plan to add to this list of South Africa and Nigeria.

One factor that stops people from buying solar panels is their high initial price, said Amit Kumar from the institute in New Delhi. The price of solar panels exceeds the price of the diesel generator, but Chase’s estimates, more imposing monetary investment becomes profitable diesel after seven years of use. Panel lifetime is 25 years.

Even in India, solar power is still two times more expensive than electricity produced from coal, but that could soon change. Although the collapse of prices in 2011 was more than analysts agree that prices will continue to fall. Suntech firm estimates that by 2015, the price of solar energy will be equal to the energy supplied by the mains half of the countries.

Original: Newscientist


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