Tuesday, 18 March 2008


If you can’t make rooftop photovoltaics pay financially without feed in tariffs, tax credits, accellerated depreciation, rebates, and subsidized loans - and even with all that it’s still barely better financially than just sticking to natural gas or coal fired grid electricity - how on earth can something like this succeed at the utility scale?
One reason solar energy still cannot compete financially vs. conventional energy is because the value of future energy output from a photovoltaic system is discounted when calculating, for example, an internal rate of return. But economic models that put a time-value on money - making receipts in the future not worth as much as receipts today - cannot necessarily be applied to energy.

A fairly stealthy, fast growing, vertically integrated photovoltaic company who is staking their strategy on utility scale applications is Optisolar, based in Hayward, California. Owning everything from the manufacturing (and the underlying thin film technology), to the solar fields they build, they have begun construction on what will be the largest photovoltaic field in the world to-date.

It’s interesting that the world’s largest PV array currently is the utility-scale 12-megawatt Erlasee solar park in Germany, and this new 50 megawatt plant built by Optisolar is going to be Ontario, Canada. Interesting because Germany and Canada aren’t necessarily considered the sunniest places on earth.

full article

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