Future Supply of Panels

We will be building an off the grid home in 12-18 months. With the supply/demand for panels getting a bit tighter I have been considering buying at least my panels soon. I would appreciate any opinions on supply and pricing in the next 2 yrs and if I'm just worrying too much.
Thanks,
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Comments

  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Future Supply of Panels


    i buy panels whenever i have extra money and everytime i order they
    have gone up a little bit. i have not bought anything else because most
    items are fairly easy to get eg: inverters, charge controllers, batteries, etc
    and in many cases they have improved and/or went down in price. when i
    move i will purchase the remaining items so that when i set the system up
    it will be state of the art

    brad

  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Future Supply of Panels
    eva wrote:
    We will be building an off the grid home in 12-18 months. With the supply/demand for panels getting a bit tighter I have been considering buying at least my panels soon. I would appreciate any opinions on supply and pricing in the next 2 yrs and if I'm just worrying too much.
    Thanks,
    Oh that any of us could see into the future. It is strange though, about 2 years ago, I started getting a weird feeling of urgency about purchasing my PV's and was in a position to act on it. Almost like I had a premonition of things to come.
    They WILL go down again, we just don't know when, or how much higher they will go first.
    Good luck.
    Wayne
  • WindsunWindsun Solar Expert Posts: 1,164 ✭✭
    Re: Future Supply of Panels

    Actually, we are thinking that in the next 12-24 months that panel prices will start dropping somewhat - but they may go up more before that. There are some new Silicon stock plants coming online within the next year, is one factor. But another factor is that prices are starting to look like a bubble - and bubbles tend to burst.

    We have been through 3 or 4 of these boom and bust cycles before, and though I don't expect this one be as drastic as the Y2K one, it would not surprise me to actually see a surplus of panels by 2008. More and more we are seeing some panels getting close to being priced out of the market - past that "soft price ceiling" into the hard price ceiling, where consumer start seriously cutting back on buying. This is especially true of some of the Euro-based panel makers, like BP. In the meantime, the Japanese and Chinese makers are moving in and taking market share from them.
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,311 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Future Supply of Panels

    that's good that more production will come to pass, but what of just in the usa? i do find it ironic that bush gave unisolar a lump sum to bring its workers back from layoff recently when there's such a demand going on. 20yr guarantees aren't cutting it with most people unless we talk of the sanyo hip and hit series of hybrids.
    i also was shown this cell from somebody on the board. http://www.sunpowercorp.com/solarcells/
    click on the a300 to look more closely at its design as i've never seen one doped and power tapped in such a manner. anybody, besides the one who told me of it, familiar with this product and this company. they don't list prices and they failed to respond to the one that told me of them's inquiry. in their pics they showed an array at nasa and seem to be big at the european market right now like most other manufacturers. do look in the area they have as "our technology". there is a pdf in the first section of "superior performance, superior aesthetics". click on this as it is more detailed on the cell and is quite interesting and different.
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Future Supply of Panels


    i certainly hope panels go down so i can afford them more easily,
    but i once thought gas would go back down to a buck a gallon :lol:
    still i wonder with increasing rolling blackouts, fuel cost rising, and
    utility rates steadily going up will panels come down?. there seems
    to be more people than ever looking seriously at alt energy and
    buying panels if for no other reason but to grid tie so they can
    lower their utility bills.

    brad

  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Future Supply of Panels

    Greetings,
    Eva, I wouldn't buy any technology today that I wouldn't be using for 12 to 18 months. Think about buying a TV, DVD Recorder or Computer, storing it for 18 months then taking it out of storage and comparing it with current products. Some say the price of panels have gone up. Well If I compare what I paid for my 75 watt panels which were high wattage when I bought them with the current price of 75 watt panels I would save over $200 per panel at todays prices. I can buy a 120watt to 160watt panel depending on the source for the same price as I paid for my 75watt'ers. If history has proven anything its that technology gets cheaper once the R&D is paid off. I can buy a great Dell laptop for $500. When I was in business I paid that much for a video card that isn't suitable for a modern computer. If it were me I would wait and buy the newest technology at the prices of the day.
    Tek
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,311 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Future Supply of Panels

    tlcstat,
    i'm glad you are optimistic of the prices to come down that far, but i don't think so. i have a pv that i bought from edmond scientific in the early 80s at around $300 and it is about 600ma at 12v. did they drop from there? you bet they did as that money can buy about 50-65w of pv now, but are you expecting prices to leap downward again? don't hold your breath. pvs aren't your normal electronics item and have been around longer than those electronic items you cite in your examples. pvs just aren't following the normal ways of products as r&d never stops even though the product itself is a half century old. without one of those miracle technology breakthroughs to be real, don't expect cheap pvs in the future. some price wavering will take place, but that is normal though and the influx of pvs to europe will slow down or stop at some point that triggered the price jump to us.
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Future Supply of Panels

    Greetings,
    Seems to me that there is more than just price per watt at work here. Panels have a conversion rate. That is the rate at which the panel can convert its sq area of sunlight into electricity. This rate is also improving. Improvements in semiconductor technology flow through the whole industry. It doesn't really matter what part of the industry developed the improvements. Modern scientific advances are too great on a day to day basis to buy a set of anything and store it for 18 months and then take it out of a box and expect it to be current. There have been incredible change just is the last two years in solar. Also, availability is too unpredictable. Kind of like the year that the Korean computer memory plant burned down. Prices went up by 400% over night. That can't be predicted but I didn't buy a bunch of memory ahead of time due to worry. If I had I would have had a bunch of out dated unuseable memory. Come to think to think about it that old 1980 panel of yours isn't worth much more than my pile of outdated memory chips. I would still wait and get the best available when I'm ready to put the system together.
    Tek
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,311 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Future Supply of Panels

    i agree to wait if you can as availability will be better and the price will come back down somewhat to the point of before the great european demand started. as far as the small advancements in efficiency that have come along you see a higher retail price per watt on them. if you have a need of that high of efficiency due to limited space to place the pvs fine as you have little choice, but if that isn't the case why spend that much more for the same power?
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Future Supply of Panels

    The panels I bought 3 years ago, I simply could not afford to buy today. Same goes for the ones I got 2 years ago. In fact, those ones (GE 110 watt), I now cannot get here at any price. I'm told it's due to huge world demand, which will only go higher as oil goes through the roof. Looking seriously at world issues I can see $150 oil and even higher. 10 years ago, who would have thought we would live to see the cost of filling our home heating oil tank reaching for $1000.00? Well guess what - - here in Canada it's almost there and where does it go from here? 40 years ago, it cost my parents about $50.00 to fill that same tank! At that rate, in another 40 years it will be $20,000.00
    What demand will that put on solar energy?
    Wayne
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Future Supply of Panels

    This just in on BBC world news:
    " Oil soars to $71 on nuclear row.
    Oil hits a record price of $71.60 a barrel, above 2005's post-Katrina high, on fears of a nuclear standoff with Iran."

    Could this be just the beginning of sorrows? Where will it go if there is an invasion?
    Remember, before Iraq, oil was at $30.00
    Wayne
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Future Supply of Panels

    It is impressave how they can either be friends with the USA and make deals to make the rich richer or they can not make oil deals with us and we will just go take it like in Iraq. If we take control of Iran's and IraQ's oil fields would that not give us control of largest oil field in the world? That would let us set the prices how ever we wanted.. Which would mean the price would increase. Iran does not have a nuke and we would never nuke the place and loose that goldmine. Not going to happen. If it comes to war it will be the same as in Iraq. Just walk right in and take over the place. If you remember Iraq had the 5th largest army in the world and was mashed like a little bug. I would not think Iran would be even in the top 10 in the world.

    So yes prices will go up no matter what. War or not. This is just a chance for someone to make a little extra cash. Just like the so called solar panel shortage. It is and always will be GREED and POWER and GREED for POWER that makes the world go around.

    I know where to get Evergreen panels for 3.20 a watt so I guess I should go ahead and get a couple more either 115 or 120 watt panels for just in case.
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,311 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Future Supply of Panels

    wayne,
    i think i agree with you that we have some tough times ahead of us. whether it's a matter of world political circumstances or mother nature it seems to be getting much worse. our lng bills are out of sight around here. they did tell us that it will soon drop in price some pretty soon. if all you are paying is $1000 per season consider yourself lucky as adjusting for monetary differences and spreading it out over the season it's cheaper for you than me in heating.

    HEY GUYS, PLEASE BE CAREFUL YOU DON"T START GETTING TOO POLITICAL HERE AS I"LL HAVE TO DELETE IT FOR THOSE BE THE RULES.
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Future Supply of Panels

    Hm, I got 3 50 Watt Panels from 1993. So they are 13 years old and they perform still at 97-101% according to what it says on the sticker. In Euros per watt they cost then 7 Euros per watt. Today you buy the same panel, same dimensions and same output for 6 Euros/Watt. That is expensive, but thanks to very generous subsidies affordable for anyone interrested.Adjusted to living costs. the panels got 18% cheaper in the last 10 years.
    That the panels in the US are so expensive, is probably because for one there is not as much production like there is in Europe and for two the imported panels have to be paid in local curency, here in Euros. Since the US decided to elect a president that is outside his country,lets say, not the most popular guy around,the $ lost tremendously in value over the last few years. As the US still pay the same price in Euros to the factories here, after converting it in to $ the price changes dramatically.
    When the Euro was introduced in the beginning of the century, 87c bought one Euro. Then Mr Bush decided to invade a sovereign country and today you have to pay $1.22 for the same Euro.
    So a panel at 100Watts that was 600 Euros sold in the US for $550. Today, the same panel,still 600Euros, costs $ 740. Quite a change and just one price to pay if the nation is at war.
    Of course, products made in the US benefit a lot from this as in the rest of the world those goods get cheaper all the time and so can be sold more easily.It would be easy to drive up production in the US, they could undercut the Europeans easily. But, as for most things, the big guys on the top, above all the president, are oil man and have little to no interest in helping alternative energy along. After all, look at the average age of the "decision makers", for them the phrase "save the planet"is placed beyond there life expectancy, so the do not care. Profits are made with oil and all that counts are profits.

    Rant over :-D

    Greetings from sunny spain
    Chris
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Future Supply of Panels

    The current demand for solar cells is basically driven by new people getting into solar, which is probably less than 1% of the population. If that rate jumped, even 0.5%, it would completely overwhelm the projected supply. Lots of people are now looking at alternative power where as two years ago, they were not.

    On another note...

    I spoke to someone yesterday who calculated it was feasible to purchase a new high-milage car at todays gas prices and the cost savings in gas would cover the montly car payments.
  • WindsunWindsun Solar Expert Posts: 1,164 ✭✭
    Re: Future Supply of Panels
    niel wrote:
    HEY GUYS, PLEASE BE CAREFUL YOU DON"T START GETTING TOO POLITICAL HERE AS I"LL HAVE TO DELETE IT FOR THOSE BE THE RULES.

    Feel Free to bring it to my site then ... Neil hasn't be anointed King over there ....  :-P

    All conversations are welcome, In 4 years, I have never found it necessary to delete posts :roll:


    I have...

    When discussions start gettng sidetracked into political and/or religqious rants, I have indeed deleted or edited posts. And will continue to do so, as will our moderators.

    I could discuss for hours the funny things in France - but not here :-D
  • WindsunWindsun Solar Expert Posts: 1,164 ✭✭
    Re: Future Supply of Panels
    chrisspain wrote:
    So a panel at 100Watts that was 600 Euros sold in the US for $550. Today, the same panel,still 600Euros, costs $ 740. Quite a change and just one price to pay if the nation is at war.

    uhm.. no it does not.

    We sell a 130 watt panel for under $600. The going price in Europe for the same panel is over $800.

    As you can see here, panel prices in Europe have ALWAYS been higher than in the US http://www.solarbuzz.com/

    And the Us is #3 in panel production (#2 if you count all the factories just across the border in Mexico run by US/Japanese/European companies.) The problem is that the prices in Europe are much higher than in the US, so 3/4 of the US production is being shipped to Europe, mainly because of the very high subsidies there.
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Future Supply of Panels

    Greetings,
    I'm not aware of any "incredible" change in increases in watt per sq meter

    Actually I didn't say there were incredible changes, just improvement.  There is also improvement in other parts of the solar system such as idle current draw in the sytem controls.  Few years back they developed DDR RAM for computers. The DDR RAM is constructed exactly the same a the previous DIMMs they are just double clocked. The fact that the only change is technique and not architecture doesn't mean a thing.  Fact is, the results was a faster RAM meaning faster computer.  The same applies to panels.  It doesn't matter how they get the 18%, it is still a increase (not incredible but pretty good).  As for all the economic ranting I recommend buying a good energy mutual fund.  You would be amazed at how much money you would have to fill that tank at todays prices. Also WindSun makes my point regarding prices. 130watts for under $600 is a very acceptable price. Three of them are just a little higher then what I paid for my MH system (installed) couple of years ago. I would much rather have the 130watt'ers on my roof (given the limited space on top of a MH) then what I have at the same price. Regarding the original question and in light of all the posts I would still wait and buy the panels later. I'll bet I get more bang for the buck.
    Tek
    Tek
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,366 admin
    Re: Future Supply of Panels
    When the Euro was introduced in the beginning of the century, 87c bought one Euro. Then Mr Bush decided to invade a sovereign country and today you have to pay $1.22 for the same Euro.

    Actually, the Euro introduction back in December 15 of 1998, one Euro was equal to US$1.18 . Today, one Euro buys usd $1.23 .

    http://www.oanda.com/convert/fxhistory

    There have been a lot of swings in the U$D rate over the years. Much of that is the result of pure politics. Both internal and external--Something that NAWS has chosen not to discuss here--and I respect that as this is a support forum for their company and customers.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Future Supply of Panels
    BB wrote:
    When the Euro was introduced in the beginning of the century, 87c bought one Euro. Then Mr Bush decided to invade a sovereign country and today you have to pay $1.22 for the same Euro.

    Actually, the Euro introduction back in December 15 of 1998, one Euro was equal to US$1.18 . Today, one Euro buys usd $1.23 .

    You are talking of the introduction of the Euro in banking business. As far as I remember it came in to peoples hands in January 2002 and thats when you had to pay with it. If you look at your linked site, you see the exchange rate I mean. It went steadily down for the dollar. As a matter of fact. you can even combine different actions of Mr.Bush and see a direct change in the exchange.

    I simply remember the exchange because I had to go to the US in the summer of 2002 and it was the most expensive visit ever for me.

    I just got back from Florida 2 weeks ago and for me all prices since 2002 (except petrol :-D) went down by at least 30%. Very nice for me as visitor.I did notice however, that the majority of people seem to drive huge cars where one fill up can cost $100 but at the same time complain about the high cost of there petrol.Also,in all of these gigantic cars seems to be only one person,sometimes mum with the kids. I wonder what the situation would be, if you have to pay european prices for petrol (at the moment around $6/gallon)

    Also. do not forget in price comparisons that in Europe we pay between 15 and 33% sales tax, something rather unheard of in the US, where sales tax is mostly in the single digits or not existent.

    Greetings from sunny spain
    Chris
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Future Supply of Panels

    Greetings,
    Thanks to those who make this forum possible. I have found it to be extremely helpful.
    Tek
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Future Supply of Panels
    niel wrote:
    wayne,
    if all you are paying is $1000 per season consider yourself lucky as adjusting for monetary differences and spreading it out over the season it's cheaper for you than me in heating.
    No Niel, that's just to fill the oil tank once! My dear old mom usually goes thorough 4 or 5 fillups per winter. This winter was much warmer than in living memory, so only 2 fillups AND, we burned a bunch of wood..
    My own house is smaller, VERY well insulated and takes great advantage of the winter sun - - when it shows it's face. LOL
    Wayne
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,311 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Future Supply of Panels
    niel wrote:
    wayne,
    if all you are paying is $1000 per season consider yourself lucky as adjusting for monetary differences and spreading it out over the season it's cheaper for you than me in heating.
    No Niel, that's just to fill the oil tank once! My dear old mom usually goes thorough 4 or 5 fillups per winter. This winter was much warmer than in living memory, so only 2 fillups AND, we burned a bunch of wood..
    My own house is smaller, VERY well insulated and takes great advantage of the winter sun - - when it shows it's face. LOL
    Wayne

    ouch, 4-5 times now that hurts. yes, this winter was warmer here too, but you and i know a bad one is due and with prices the way they are something will give. i remember one winter in the early 90s that we didn't go above 0 degrees f for several weeks in a row. needless to say it was weird seeing so much ice from burst pipes be they from homes or the pipes under the roads. another winter like that one i think we'll see many people freezing to death.
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Future Supply of Panels


    neil maybe you could put up one of those surveys to see if the general
    consences is panels are on the way up, down or going to stay about the
    same

    brad
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,311 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Future Supply of Panels

    pioneer,
    you should be able to setup a poll yourself and it would be near the top right of the page. it doesn't show it on mine for individual threads so i'm not sure if it's there for you or not, but it is there under general solar topics. it will say "new poll".
    i just spotted add poll at the bottom of the thread. duh me.
  • WindsunWindsun Solar Expert Posts: 1,164 ✭✭
    Re: Future Supply of Panels
    pioneer wrote:

    neil maybe you could put up one of those surveys to see if the general
    consences is panels are on the way up, down or going to stay about the
    same

    brad

    Such a poll here would be limited value, the sample base is too small. Solarbuzz.com keeps track of worldwide prices, and they have shown steady price rises for some time. My own feelings about prices dropping in 18-24 months are just opinion - and the whole situation with energy is pretty "fluid" right now as they say.

    But the fact is, right now the major reason for the rise in prices is 90% politics. For years politicians around the world ignored solar, but now all of a sudden it has gotten cool to support solar, thus all the subsidies that have - to some extent - actually been counter productive. Too much too fast - instead of a steady increase in demand, we got a huge spike.

    And most consumers are clueless about energy anyway - the fact is, even if the world went 100% solar for home and industry, that would not affect the use of oil near as much as most suppose, since something like 90% is used for transportation and industrial uses, such as plastics.

    But something that seems very common worldwide is that conservation has been a dirty word - we even see in our own sales. We get calls from California from people that don't want to save energy, but to make sure they have enough of their own energy to run the 24 hour Jacuzzi. They buy solar so they don't have to cut back on what they use.
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Future Supply of Panels
    But something that seems very common worldwide is that conservation has been a dirty word - we even see in our own sales. We get calls from California from people that don't want to save energy, but to make sure they have enough of their own energy to run the 24 hour Jacuzzi. They buy solar so they don't have to cut back on what they use.

    To me that is the sad part. :? So many don't give a rats ###. So many like to blame it on the politicians but I see that poiticians are doing just what we want and that is to make sure we have enough.

    The human species, I don't know.

    Tom
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Future Supply of Panels

    Tom, in my humble opinion, you hit the nail squarely on the head!
    What you describe, I see EVERY day!
    Wayne
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Future Supply of Panels

    can i hear an amen brothers and sisters?
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Future Supply of Panels

    well there are a few things i wanted to say about this thread. 1 is yes the technology has advanced in the panels from years ago. Such are most technology as more people/manufactures become involved it will decrease the price. So obviously with the huge world demand there is a defiect of solar panels, which will drive more competitors into the market to meet the demand. So yes in time the cost will come down but when? who really knows. will it take a year or 3 or 5? who knows for sure but given there is money to be made, with all the state and feceral incentives as well as the government mandated increase in RE, there will be a healthy demand and manufactures will rise to meet that demand and prices will stabilize and as the incentives from the fed and states begin to less as will the demand and result in a surplus driving cost down even more.

    2nd is that you have to allow for inflation. yes there are a certain amount of things that will go down in cost as technology increases like plasma TVs 5 years ago a 42" plasma was 5k. but today you can find a 42" plasma for 1k or less. But you have to figure there are what 200-300 manufactures that make tvs? a lot but look at the cost of consumables, bread, milk, meat, oil, it has all gone up as with inflation. so yes your oil will cost more today than it did 10 years ago. same thing with your bread and your milk etc etc.

    right now we are in a phase where solar panels are on an upswing in prices cause of an excessive demand over production. but technology has still been working on reducing that cost. as more efficeint panels are being offered as technology increases. So yes a 120w panel today might cost the same as a 75w panel did a few years ago.

    but yes with the whole US on elec for household elec, it will not reduce the cost of oil as much, but there inlies the what comes 1st the chicken or the egg. as elec is becoming more acceptable in todays society meaning oil company lobbyist are losing out in congress and there is more of a demand for cleaner, more efficient and renewable energy thus allowing more dollars to fund R&D into other arenas of energy like hybrid engines, that can reduce the demands on oil consumtion for transportation. which then can lead to other things.

    also yes the US is a consumer based society, there will not be a mass sacrificing of the people to save energy. they want to have more things, use more energy to power their jacuzzi 24-7 even if the rest of cali is without power. they like the idea of RE or solar but if it effects their daily lives then they are not interested. They will pay higher cost for gas, and elec, etc untill it is required or it is easier for the general public as a whole.

    but that is just my 2 cents
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