The Cost Of Solar

Wilma Said:

What is your prediction on the material cost of solar energy in thenext 5 years?

We Answered:

Current CdTe modules have 10 percent efficiency and an installed system cost of about $4 per watt. My guess is this can be cut in half in 5 years.

Here is a very good article “A Solar Grand Plan” – explains that government subsidy is likely required if the US is to become energy self sufficient by 2050.

Eric Said:

How does the cost of solar electric homes compare tot eh cost of thetraditional energy?

We Answered:

If you don’t count transfer payments (money taken in taxes from some people and given to others) it costs about 5x what conventional energy costs. One large facilty in Nevada which has the advantage of the economies of scale cost $100M and saves $1M each year. Assuming you could borrow money for no interest, this is a 100 year payback! (With interest, it takes longer). Typically nobody choses any high up front cost proposal unless it pays itself back in under 12 years.

So, why did they do it? The enegy company was mandated to do more with renewable energy. The costs were not carried by the company but by the utility payers. Nice!

It would have been far better to give two universities $50M endowments to produce research and PhDs to further the technology until it is economical. Or, I’m sure you can think of other things that produce more for that amount of money.

But if you can feel smug taking tax money so your neighbors pay for your “green” energy, then the payback is quicker.