Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Kyocera To Ship Low Cost Solar Panels as Early as FY 2006

Found over at The Energy Blog and the Centre for Energy (tm).

Kyocera Corp. (TSE:6971) plans to start shipping low cost solar panels as early as fiscal 2006 that uses just one-fifth the silicon of existing models. The expected cost for a 3 kilowatt system is just under $17,000. A $17,000 PV system that can produce an average 3 kilowatts of electricity per hour for 8 sun hours per day for at least 10 years (expected life of the system) equates to a cost of $0.194 per kwh. More sun or longer system life would lower the net per kwh cost.

Personally, I average paying $170 per month for electricity at about $0.17 per kwh grid electricity for the house. That works out to require a PV system that delivers just under 5 kilowatts of power on average for 8 hours each day without any efficiency improvements at my house (and there are places where I could reduce my electric load as I replace old appliances with new). Reducing my electric needs to a 3 kw system would be the same as an average $102 monthly electric cost. Paying $102 per month for grid electricity means a PV system must cost less than $12,000 to be a net cost improvement. Not quite there yet but much closer than we were 5 years ago.

What's really cool though is to see what happens if electricity costs go up in the future and compare that with a system purchase using today's dollars. To see what difference that would make, one would have to include a fudge factor (otherwise known as a guess) for future electricity costs. If electricity costs go up by 3% per year (the average inflation rate), 10 year total grid electricity costs would go up from $12,240 to $14,253, putting a break even at 11.6 years. If electricity costs rose as much as 10% per year (unlikely in the forseeable future), you would break even in 8.75 years. To break even exactly at 10 years would have to have an electricity cost increase of 6.31% per year. So the thing to watch will be if the PV system cost decreases as production ramps up or if the cost of electricity increases at better than 6% per year. Or some combination of the two.

Calculations:
Average 1000 kwh per month x 12 months = 12,000 kwh per year
12,000 kwh / 365 days / 8 hours sun per day = 4.11 kilowatts per hour
4.11 kilowatts * 1.2 conversion (inefficiency of converting DC to AC) = 4.932 kw system.

Assuming I can reduce my electrical load to 3 kws power would mean I need to use 3 / 5 kws x $170 = $102 average cost per month for grid electricity.

System cost would be recovered in $17,000 / 102 / 12 = 13.9 years. Life of the system assumed to be 10 years, so the cost of this system must come down to $12,240 to break even (also assuming no PV system maintenance costs above the average maintenance needs of my house over those same 10 years).

8 Comments:

Blogger j&c said...

It might be possible that electricity costs increase dramatically in the near term, depending on where you live. In MD, there was a cap on costs to end users that is coming off next year. I'm kinda scared to see what that's going to do to our bills.

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