Monday, September 26, 2011

Solar panel prices

Since I expressed interest in the price of solar panels form an Australian distributor I have been bombarded with sales pitch emails...

Last price - $1.30.


Dear customer

Just a quick note that the price of alex panel has been dropped to $1.20p/w (minimun purchase amount is 2 pallets).

I have no idea whether the Solyandra disaster involved anything untoward or not.

But it does not matter either way. Solyandra was doomed.



Anonymous said...

The development of canals, railways and automobiles were all marked by over investment with too many companies chasing too few ultimate opportunities. There were many bankruptcies. In the long run society benefited from that over-investment.

Jim said...

@Anon: yes but as far as I'm aware (in the UK at least) the State didn't start building its own canals and railways, and lose millions of taxpayers money in doing so. All the money lost was privately raised funds. Private losses, public gains (in the form of extra infrastructure - rather like the Channel tunnel thanks to Mrs T). Solyndra is public losses, and hardly any public gains either, given there won't be much left when its all done and dusted.

Anonymous said...

Jim might benefit from researching the history of investment in US and Canadian transportation, 1860-1940.
Timeline of US landgrant railroads

Panics and depressions timeline:

Anonymous said...

Absalon said...

I made the first anonymous posting. I do believe that there is a place for government investment in new technologies. For example, both the jet engine and the design techniques that make modern microprocessors possible are as a result of US government spending.

However, the point I was really trying to make is that cutting edge enterprises have frequently involved high risks (ask Juan Elcano). The development of solar power is so important to the long term interests of the United States that risking and losing $500 Million (and a lot more, if need be) is fully justified. The government should not waste money and should do due diligence but there is nothing inherently wrong in government investing in this type of development.

Don Juan De Carlos said...

Early infrastructure in the US & Canada received substantial sums. Notable:
The Erie Canal $7 million from the New York government. The Canadian Pacific Railway received $25-$30 million (1870), Conservative politicians received ~$360,000 in "campaign contributions"

Anonymous said...

Indeed. I wonder whether anyone would have complained if it turned profit? After all, the case for gov't non-investment is fundamentaly the same regardless of whether the investment does or does not turn profit.

A large number of publicly financed unis does research that few if any companies would do, as it's too expensive - even though a potential tail-risk option is still order of a magnitude larger.

Anonymous said...

I met a random environmental scientist (at a wedding, no less) who said he could get 'em for a dollar per watt, with no mention of this blog (we were talking about how much better it is than coal).

burrite said...

Right now, if you are a large customer in Europe you can get panels for around 70-80 eurocents (about $1.05). FSLR must sell its panels for about $0.20 to $0.30 less, because its panels are less efficient (generate less electricity per square meter), and therefore are more costly to install per watt of electrical output.

FSLR makes panels for $0.76/watt. If it is selling them for $0.75 to $0.85, it is losing money (FSLR spends about $0.25-$0.30 for each watt it produces on R&D and selling/g&a expenses).

It can cover up this loss, for a little while, by some clever accounting. But they have a business where it costs them more to make their primary product than its customers will pay to buy the product.

As Casey Stengel said, "you could look it up."

Anonymous said...

John - you posted that Northern Rock gloat a few weeks ago with the preface that a UK bank short thesis was coming "shortly". Was that ever the case?

John Hempton said...

Yeah - but I think RBOS got ahead of me.

Nowadays the question is whether RBOS preference shares survive? For that I have no answer.

In the early days of the blog I posted a lot on banks. Less so now -


Anonymous said...

Don't stop posting about banks or otherwise, please. I find your insights absolutely fascinating and look forward to each new post.

Anonymous said...

There's a post (few years old) about the solar industry in the distressed debt investing blog.

Vicky said...

Me and my husband recently acquired a few solar panels for our roof. Regardless of how cost effective it can be and how long it would take to recoup how much we spent on them. Anything to move away from fossil fuels and dependance upon the grid is a great move, there are also plenty of places availible to compare solar panel prices.

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