Doug Hoffman: Solar photovoltaics failing worldwide

Posted: June 10, 2013 by tallbloke in Accountability, Energy, Robber Barons, Uncertainty

solar_money_houseFrom the Resilient Earth:

Everyone has heard the pitch for solar energy, install solar cells on your roof and get free electricity from the Sun. Sure they cost a lot up front, but they will last 25-30 years—which just happens to be about the payback time given current electricity rates from coal, nuclear and natural gas. So when solar panels start failing in two or three years the economics of solar power collapses like a house of cards. That is exactly what is happening around the world. Cheap Chinese solar panels have flooded the market and are now starting to fail at an alarming rate. Solar panels covering a warehouse roof in Los Angeles were only two years into their expected 25-year life span when they began to fail. Worldwide, solar power adopters are reporting similar problems and say the $77 billion solar industry is facing a quality crisis.

“I don’t want to be alarmist, but I think quality poses a long-term threat,” said Dave Williams, chief executive of San Francisco-based Dissigno. “The quality across the board is harder to put your finger on now as materials in modules are changing every day and manufacturers are reluctant to share that information.”

These facts give lie to the claim that solar power is mature and competitive. If 25 years are needed to break even, cells that fail in 2.5 years, or even cells that degrade faster then planed, mean solar will never be economically viable. Add the industry secrecy surrounding the low quality of their product and this goes from being a lie to being a scam.

This is what happens when countries make infrastructure engineering decisions based on ideology and political correctness. People around the world must judge their own governments but here in the US, instead of building clean, reliable nuclear power plants, the Obama administration has squandered the American people’s money on hyper-expensive crap that will not last. Of course, for Obama it just needs to last until his second term is over so he can proclaim victory and retire, believing he did us all a favor. The lesson here is simple: Never send a community organizer and his lawyer pals to do an engineer’s job.

Read the full article here

  1. Petrossa says:

    Reblogged this on Petrossa's Blog and commented:
    To me it’s very basic: “There is no such thing as a free lunch”+”If it sounds to good to be true it is”. If you’d install high quality installation the installation cost would be cost prohibitive, if you install China grade the installation won’t last long enough to return your investment let alone be profitable. Now that subsidies are being cut and the real price has to be paid, and you get the real market spot price for the energy you put back into the grid instead of the subsidized price these forms of energy production are the most expensive and unreliable on the market today.

  2. I got conned by the Prez to buy LED lights for my house …. I had a hundred dollars of light bulbs fail in one year.

    And when I decided to replace the outside light with a 40 watt bulb, it was more than twice as bright as the 2 year old LED. Yes, it only used 18 watts to put out 20 watts. And it had out lasted the others. But, what a waste. And a lie.

    Keep up the good work & stop by my blog sometime.


  3. Kon Dealer says:

    So failures start at 2.5 years and you have a 25 year payback time.
    Obamonics at their best.

  4. Jim says:

    Gee, i remember when these polcies were introduced…the man without a heart was the vice president in his first year in office…the presidents name was?….

  5. hunter says:

    So the calf scramble for public tax money by insiders and pals of governing class world wide is leading to the squander of billions and billions. Recall that we tax payers world wide are enriching the promoters for this schlock. How nay wells providing clean water, small scale generating plants, cell phone towers, micro-lending could have been done world wide with only a fraction of what the kleptocrats have gorged on? How much work towards clean coal, increased fracking, innovative safety and quality of fission plants could have been done with this money?

  6. Q. Daniels says:

    So, one part of a transaction is subsidized…

    Market responds by focusing on capturing the subsidy, while paying less attention to the overall transaction.

    This is somehow surprising?

  7. murrayv says:

    A lot of nonsense being posted here. I spent my entire career in the microelectronics industry, and I can assure you that the technology is mature and in many parts of the USA is affordable. We have been making reliable solar cells for 30 years, and stress testing to failure projects life-times in normal use of 40 years easily. In places like Southern California where the utilities practise “time-of-day” pricing, peak power can cost north of 20 US dollar cents/kWh, and reliable panels are quite affordable at that price. In Florida, where I live, the local utility found that it was less expensive for them to subsidize home solar installation than to build a new peaking power plant. I took advantage of their offer, but having had experience in China, insisted on USA manufactured panels. The price premium was only 10%. After the subsidy, my breakeven time is 9 years. I chose to go with microinverters, also made in the USA, and the system now has 3 years of operation with no measurable degradation. I generate 90% of the energy I use and the utility does net billing so my meter runs backwards at peak generation. If I had included the panel cost in my mortgage, at present interest rates, my energy would be free, ie immediate payback. Murray

  8. murrayv says:

    Oops! Should have added. Chinese quality control is completely undependable, and that is the problem, not technology. The microelectronics industry routinely achieves defect rates after 2 years of operation below 5 ppm.

  9. […] Doug Hoffman: Solar photovoltaics failing worldwide ( […]

  10. tallbloke says:

    That’s the point Murrayy. China is a big percentage of production.

  11. murrayv says:

    The point I read was that the technology is not mature and the economics are not there, both of which are false in appropriate circumstances. Blame Chinese manufacturing, not photovoltaic engineering, manufacturing and installation technology, all of which are mature and reliable. No technology is good without proper quality control.

  12. PeterMG says:

    Tallbloke. Excellence in manufacturing is a cultural thing and something the Chinese don’t have at present. I was talking to a British Siemens engineer about quality control on gears for wind turbines made in China. From what he tells me none of the Chinese machines will last because the tolerance in both the metallurgy and in manufacture leave no margin for error. And if happens to be an off shore turbine the cost of repair even after just a few years can make it uneconomic. There are going to be a lot disappointed investors in a few years.

    Murrayv. I think your judgement may be clouded by subsidy and distorted taxation plus absurd regulation to the point that the playing field far from being level is almost upside down.

  13. michael hart says:

    MurrayV, as far as I can tell, peak demand, even in Florida, seems to be in the Winter.

    Peak demand is also reported as occuring daily between 5.00am and 8.00am

    In which part of Florida does the sun shine at night?

  14. murrayv says:

    Michael, please address your query to FPL. See .

    Sarasota seems to show a sharpm peak near 6 AM and then a high curve from about 11:00 Am to 7:00Pm, especially in summer, with the max about 3:00 to 5:00 PM, fairly concident with my PV output.

    I don’t think I made any claim about when peak demand is. I did say that FPL chose PV as an alternative to building a new peaking plant, and I suspect they know what they are doing.

    Peter, think what you wish. For sure you know nothing about my judgment. Yes FPL chose to subsidize home PV as a better use of their capital. I benefit from that. Where is the bad judgment? What has taxation got to do with it?