# Woe is the newly blossomed Solar Panel market which China has pulled the rug out from underneath, already

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If you want solar power to be successful, you need to have cheap solar panels. If the Chinese want to subsidize the production of solar panels, and build them while paying their citizens at slave wag

Whether a refinery or a solar panel manufacturing plant these same regulatory, safety and approval requirements add to the cost of operating a business. Well, unless you put that business in a place

So here is one from today.

http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/677-e2-wire/182213-fury-over-solyndra-loan-threatens-to-sunset-solar-investments

In it you will find this little nugget.

“The biggest hurdle for U.S. manufacturers is that they have to compete with these giant Chinese companies that have access to huge amounts of capital, cheaper labor and more relaxed environmental policies”

Then there is your story from China. It includes these little nuggets.

“JinkoSolar Holding Co., a New York- listed Chinese solar-panel manufacturer, has been told to stop work at one of its plants after violent protests by villagers alleging pollution killed fish in a nearby river.”

and

“The environmental protection bureau fined the Haining plant 470,000 yuan ($73,600), China Business News reported, citing the unidentified environmental protection agency official.” So it takes “violent protests by villagers” to get action. I have to wonder what happened to the leaders of that protest. Also fines being imposed by an “unidentified environmental protection agency official.” Yea, that sounds like it really happened. iNow and swansont, do you really want to be known as the defenders of China’s environmental policies? Did you read the article from 2007 that I posted. Do you really think China is any different today? ##### Link to post ##### Share on other sites At the very least it is an indication of rapidly changing attitudes. The funny bit is that while they are struggling to get policies set up and enforced for better environmental and health issues, in the US there are strong lobbies to undo the advances that were already made... ##### Link to post ##### Share on other sites Do you really think China is any different today? Yes. ##### Link to post ##### Share on other sites So here is one from today. http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/677-e2-wire/182213-fury-over-solyndra-loan-threatens-to-sunset-solar-investments In it you will find this little nugget. “The biggest hurdle for U.S. manufacturers is that they have to compete with these giant Chinese companies that have access to huge amounts of capital, cheaper labor and more relaxed environmental policies” If one were to take a view from Europe, they have to overcome these same hurdles, and also the fact that the US is a country with "more relaxed environmental policies". We have not implemented any CO2 policies. RoHS compliance is an EU directive. Somehow they are able to compete. IMO the biggest problem with US manufacturing (or lack thereof) is one of corporate attitude: that cutting costs is the same as creating value. ##### Link to post ##### Share on other sites For the interested reader: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-09-19/first-solar-cuts-costs-to-help-it-rival-china-s-photovoltaics.html First Solar’s Record Efficiency May Best China Solar Panels First Solar Inc. (FSLR), which achieved record efficiency for a thin-film solar cell, will incorporate the advance into its manufacturing technology next quarter to outpace cost reductions by Chinese rivals and compete against fossil fuels without government aid. First Solar developed a cell that converts 17.3 percent of sunlight into electricity and applying those techniques may yield conversion rates of 15.3 percent in mass production, said Chief Technology Officer David Eaglesham. That compares with 11.7 percent the company averaged in the second quarter. ##### Link to post ##### Share on other sites Just a really strange thought. Since the downwelling radiation from the atmospheric greenhouse effect operates 24/7 and is roughly equal to the incoming solar radiation, why aren't we working on photovoltaics that make use of the infra red part of the spectrum? I'm not kidding. There's about 340 W/M-2 available 24/7 for conversion rather than 320 W/M-2 available for, say, 8 hours per day. Converting the downwelling IR strikes me as a better option. Or is there a technical reason why IR can't be converted? ##### Link to post ##### Share on other sites Just a really strange thought. Since the downwelling radiation from the atmospheric greenhouse effect operates 24/7 and is roughly equal to the incoming solar radiation, why aren't we working on photovoltaics that make use of the infra red part of the spectrum? I'm not kidding. There's about 340 W/M-2 available 24/7 for conversion rather than 320 W/M-2 available for, say, 8 hours per day. Converting the downwelling IR strikes me as a better option. Or is there a technical reason why IR can't be converted? The bandgap energy of the materials is too large. You need to promote an electron into the conduction band to get current. A 1 micron photon (in the near IR) has an energy of 1.24 eV; out where there is significant amount of IR — 10 microns — means you have about an eighth of an eV. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Band_gap#Photovoltaic_cells Silicon is used because it's cheap. Bandgap of 1.1 eV. The lower-energy candidates are still too high and probably are either too expensive/hard to manufacture, do not have the structural characteristics needed and/or have some other shortcoming. If you use material with a really low bandgap and higher-energy light hits it, the extra energy the electron has tends to heat the material up, and that reduces efficiency. AFAIK that's one reason why CdTe is a candidate for warmer regions — it has a higher bandgap as compared to Si and so is less efficient, but it suffers from less internal heating from higher-energy photons, and suffers less of an efficiency loss. Highest theoretical efficiency for single-junction devices seeing direct solar occurs at around 1.5 eV. Something with a low-enough bandgap to collect the 10 micron IR would have a very low efficiency. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shockley-Queisser_limit ##### Link to post ##### Share on other sites In addition to what swansont said above, it's a bit of a false premise. They ARE working on using light from other ends of the spectrum. From January this year, for example: http://newscenter.lbl.gov/feature-stories/2011/01/24/practical-full-spectrum/ http://solar.calfinder.com/blog/solar-research/full-spectrum-cells/ ##### Link to post ##### Share on other sites In addition to what swansont said above, it's a bit of a false premise. They ARE working on using light from other ends of the spectrum. From January this year, for example: http://newscenter.lbl.gov/feature-stories/2011/01/24/practical-full-spectrum/ http://solar.calfinder.com/blog/solar-research/full-spectrum-cells/ Note that these devices are being designed to use the NIR from the direct solar, and not the longer-wavelength IR that JohnB was implying (how I interpreted the 24/7 radiation). AFAICT they are trying to capture the energy that's present between 1 and ~2 microns (Silicon cuts off at ~ 1 micron) and not the radiation peaking at ~10 microns that is being reradiated back to earth. ##### Link to post ##### Share on other sites That helps. Thanks for the clarification. ##### Link to post ##### Share on other sites Don't forget this one. ##### Link to post ##### Share on other sites Don't forget this one. Good graphic. It shows rather clearly how those subsidies will result in more wattage overall coming from renewables, and hence the subsidized cost per watt on renewables will decrease accordingly. This means that the return on investment from every dollar spent on solar and wind subsidies will do nothing but continue to increase as time goes on. Thanks for sharing. ##### Link to post ##### Share on other sites Good graphic. It shows rather clearly how those subsidies will result in more wattage overall coming from renewables, and hence the subsidized cost per watt on renewables will decrease accordingly. This means that the return on investment from every dollar spent on solar and wind subsidies will do nothing but continue to increase as time goes on. Thanks for sharing. Yeah, just like Solyndra. ##### Link to post ##### Share on other sites From the Paper, "It almost goes without saying, of course, that the transportation network created by the railroads would never have been possible without the same kind of federal land grants that so benefitted the timber industry. Any proper accounting of early government support for the coal industry must factor in these grants, which served to promote an exponential increase in coal consumption nationwide." What is solar's rail system? Where is the driving force behind the need for a solar production market? The paper looks to paint these industry's life cycles as similar so as to draw a contrast to their unequal subsidies. The numbers presented certainly show just such a disparity (although I always take numbers presented in an opinion piece with a grain of salt). However, the problem with solar isn't one of production capacity. Coal was the answer to the problem of the increasing cost and diminishing supply in timber, as was petroleum the answer to the combustion engine. Solar in it's current incarnation needs more research funding to bring down cost/Watt than it does an increase in supply capacity from production subsidies. I disagree with the assessment of the circumstances surrounding these energy sources. The graph on page 10 shows the timely rises in consumption that coincide with technological advances that created large demands for such energy sources. Coal to railway expansion, petroleum to automobiles. These subsidies provided primarily for the production of coal and oil with the aims of supplying these markets with abundant fuel, thus helping the industries which made use of them as an energy source. The pressure on coal and oil were created by the need for supply, which was subsidized in order to fill such demands and aid the industries which fed off that supply. What industry is creating a demand for solar generated power that can be paralleled to the rail system expansion of the 1800s or the introduction and mass production of the automobile? Edited by Saryctos ##### Link to post ##### Share on other sites Yeah, just like Solyndra. Ooooohhhh... burn !!!!1!!2!!!one!! Are you also going to tell me that your dad can beat up my dad next? It's disheartening what some people think passes for intelligent discussion these days. What industry is creating a demand for solar generated power that can be paralleled to the rail system expansion of the 1800s or the introduction and mass production of the automobile? It's not an industry driving it. It's our environment. It's the people who choose not to ignore science and realize that we should have begun this process 40 years ago. It's about the ability to avoid Florida and Venice and countless other coastal regions from sinking forever into the ocean. It's about stopping the acidification of water supplies, and avoiding the shift from having wars for oil to having wars for fresh water. It's about avoiding massive droughts and extreme weather. It's about preventing as much as possible increased incidence of disease as cold weather is no longer cold enough to kill bugs. It's about knowing the planet will survive, but we probably won't if we don't smarten up and change. In my mind, these are all valid and easily supportable points, and they are points which make the concept of "industry" seem rather trite and inconsequential. It's too bad that so many members of our species are either too dumb, too delusional, or in too much denial to come together and accept nothing less the full and immediate implementation of renewable clean energy. ##### Link to post ##### Share on other sites Don't forget this one. I'm not sure I understand the context of this. Is it in a single year of power production? Because one should use the values from the same stage of development, e.g. nuclear numbers from, say, the early 1960s, when there were fewer reactors, rather than a more recent number when there were few (if any) reactors actually being constructed. Yeah, just like Solyndra. Right, because they're the only alternative-energy startup (with various government subsidies) that's ever gone bankrupt. http://www.consumerenergyreport.com/2009/03/13/update-on-cwt-ipo/ http://www.consumerenergyreport.com/2009/05/15/greenfuel-bites-the-dust/ http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34660164/ns/business-oil_and_energy/t/biodiesel-producers-lose-gallon-tax-credit/#.ToL8beF2ly8 http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/12/business/12ethanol.html ##### Link to post ##### Share on other sites Don't forget this one. Can you please give the link to that graph? Coal often gets employment subsidies (instead of energy-related subsidies), so I'd like to check whether those are included in the picture already. ##### Link to post ##### Share on other sites It would also be interesting to know the split of funds between subsidies for construction of infrastructure and subsidisation/tax breaks allowing the sale of finite resources generated through existing infrastructure at a price lower than a normal breakeven. Obviously in renewable energy there are only subsidies relating to infrastructure and maintenance (ie there is no unit cost for the energy source) - in non-renewables subtle accounting allows for subsidy of the marginal cost ##### Link to post ##### Share on other sites It would also be interesting to know the split of funds between subsidies for construction of infrastructure and subsidisation/tax breaks allowing the sale of finite resources generated through existing infrastructure at a price lower than a normal breakeven. Obviously in renewable energy there are only subsidies relating to infrastructure and maintenance (ie there is no unit cost for the energy source) - in non-renewables subtle accounting allows for subsidy of the marginal cost Energy Policy Act of 2005 - For any non-CO2 producing technology, including nuclear, loan guarantees (hey, just like Solyndra) for up to 80 percent of the cost of the project. Nuke plants are multi-billion-dollar expenditures, so this is worth quite a bit. - For nuclear, a tax credit of 1.8 cents per kWh for the first 6,000,000 kWh new plants for the first eight years of their operation, subject to a$125 million annual limit. You could do this for solar too, if you wanted too. Europe does feed-in tariffs.

- Up to \$2 billion in support for cost overruns/delays for six nuclear plants

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_Policy_Act_of_2005

http://web.archive.org/web/20070710094024/http://www.nei.org/documents/Energy_Bill_2005.pdf

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Coal often gets employment subsidies (instead of energy-related subsidies), so I'd like to check whether those are included in the picture already.

The graph was based on Table ES5 this report.

http://www.eia.gov/oiaf/servicerpt/subsidy2/pdf/execsum.pdf

The data includes…

Federal energy subsidies and interventions

discussed in the body of this report take four principal forms:

• Direct Expenditures. These are Federal programs that directly affect the energy

industry and for which the Federal government provides funds that ultimately result in a

direct payment to producers or consumers of energy.

• Tax Expenditures. Tax expenditures are provisions in the Federal tax code that reduce

the tax liability of firms or individuals who take specified actions that affect energy

production, consumption, or conservation in ways deemed to be in the public interest.

• Research and Development (R&D). Federal R&D spending focuses on a variety of

goals, such as increasing U.S. energy supplies, or improving the efficiency of various

energy production, transformation, and end-use technologies. R&D expenditures do not

directly affect current energy production and prices, but, if successful, they could affect

future production and prices.

• Electricity programs serving targeted categories of electricity consumers in

several regions of the country. Through the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and

the Power Marketing Administrations (PMAs), which include the Bonneville Power

Administration (BPA) and three smaller PMAs, the Federal government brings to market

large amounts of electricity, stipulating that “preference in the sale of such power and

energy shall be given to public bodies and cooperatives.” The Federal government also

indirectly supports portions of the electricity industry through loans and loan guarantees

made by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS).

By the way there will be no need to worry about relying on solar or wind if this research pays off. Something Jefferson would likely invest in. 1 to 2 trillion barrels of oil right in our own borders and extracted while generating electricity. Good thing Jefferson made that Louisiana purchase.

http://portal.acs.org/portal/acs/corg/content?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=PP_SUPERARTICLE&node_id=2098&use_sec=false&sec_url_var=region1&__uuid=fc7005f1-db97-4076-a668-146ac389cfc7

" Chemistry for Life" what a catchy slogan for the American Chemical Society.

In my mind, these are all valid and easily supportable points, and they are points which make the concept of "industry" seem rather trite and inconsequential. It's too bad that so many members of our species are either too dumb, too delusional, or in too much denial to come together and accept nothing less the full and immediate implementation of renewable clean energy.

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By the way there will be no need to worry about relying on solar or wind if this research pays off. Something Jefferson would likely invest in. 1 to 2 trillion barrels of oil right in our own borders and extracted while generating electricity. Good thing Jefferson made that Louisiana purchase.

http://portal.acs.or...68-146ac389cfc7

" Chemistry for Life" what a catchy slogan for the American Chemical Society

My reading of the paper is that it is only producing electricity not oil - that the CO2 is not all captured (about 50% of normal energy production), it is a very long term project, technologies are by no means ready, and there are geophysical problems with that much carbon capture and storage. nature reported a few months ago that carbon capture and storage is a very touchy subject and there is little academic agreement on what is safe and that many of the licences given seem to be based on political expediency rather than research finding.

oil shale and oil sands (ven has huge amounts of sands as does can) are a great potential resource and research is needed to best understand how to use the oil shale - but it is not the panacea needed at present and will not solve the potential future energy debt. As the US chomps its way through 2* 10^7 barrels of oil per day, a resource in the order of 10^12 would be mighty useful - however I could not find any mention of the percentage of potential crude that this method would utilise (a few / ten percent in difficult areas is not unusual)

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Thanks for the clarification swansont and iNow. It was just something I've wondered about.

iNow, I think that there are several problems with that report. If the expansion of the rail network in the 1800s should count as a subsidy for coal, then surely the existence of the rail and road networks should count as subsidies for solar and wind. Similarly if the DoD spending on jet engine development counts as a subsidy for gas turbine generation then it should also count as a subsidy for wind as well, those big blades weren't designed in a vacuum, they built upon previous research into aerodynamics. For that matter, and if the net is going to cast that wide, then all research into materials, magnets and generators should count as subsidies for the wind poeple as well.

swansont brought up the idea of similar stage of development. I think this is a bit hairy. The Danes started wind powered electricity generation in 1908. In the 1930s the Jacobs Wind company produced 30,000 generating units in the US. The first Megawatt sized turbine was hooked to the grid in 1941 in the US. Given the long pedigree it's hard to argue that wind is a "new" or "emerging" technology. In 70 years we've gone from 1 MW to 5 MW turbines and the wind system still needs rediculously large subsidies to survive. We went from the Wright Flyer to Apollo in less time than that.

The argument seems to be that with more subsidies and money wind will be viable in 40 years or so. Given the 70 years since the first MW turbine, a reasonable person has to ask if it will ever be baseload viable regardless of how much money is thrown at it.

And iNow,

It's the people who choose not to ignore science and realize that we should have begun this process 40 years ago. It's about the ability to avoid Florida and Venice and countless other coastal regions from sinking forever into the ocean. It's about stopping the acidification of water supplies, and avoiding the shift from having wars for oil to having wars for fresh water. It's about avoiding massive droughts and extreme weather. It's about preventing as much as possible increased incidence of disease as cold weather is no longer cold enough to kill bugs. It's about knowing the planet will survive, but we probably won't if we don't smarten up and change.

Your personal fears are not logical reasons for others to act.

Edited by JohnB
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The argument seems to be that with more subsidies and money wind will be viable in 40 years or so. Given the 70 years since the first MW turbine, a reasonable person has to ask if it will ever be baseload viable regardless of how much money is thrown at it.

A reasonable person would also look for metrics which could inform a valid answer to that question.

http://www1.eere.energy.gov/tribalenergy/guide/renewable_technologies_costs.html

And iNow,

Your personal fears are not logical reasons for others to act.

It was never my position to suggest they were, nor are those fears. Those are about providing perspective, and showing that the concept of "industry" may perhaps mean someone is thinking too small. It was about showing that more than just "industry" can drive demand.

Edited by iNow

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