Friday, November 11, 2011

Solar Panels Crash to Earth

The earlier solar bust we spoke about was to an end producer of solar panels, Solyndra.  This bust is going to hit some of the material providers to those end producers.

Polysilicon is the raw material that goes into making solar panels (and computer chips).  Its price just took a spectacular dive.

Solar Glut Worsens as Supply Surge Cuts Prices 93%: Commodities
Marc Roca and Ben Sills , Bloomberg,  10 Nov 2011, (HT: Big Picture)

The cost of solar cells and microchips has nowhere to go but down because of a supply glut for the commodity they’re made from, a brittle charcoal-colored semiconductor baked in ovens at 600 degrees centigrade.

Polysilicon has plunged 93 percent to $33 a kilogram from $475 three years ago as the top five producers more than doubled output, data compiled by Bloomberg shows. The industry next year will produce 28 percent more of the raw material than will be consumed, up from 20 percent this year, said Robert Schramm- Fuchs and Shai Hill, analysts at Macquarie Group Ltd.
I am not sure what this will do to all the end supplier of solar products.  Normally the over expansion and "glutting" of a technology crashes prices and leads to new applications.  That does not necessarily mean the solar will replace fossil fuels, but could mean that we see even more solar.

I actually have an upcoming class on solar technology applications coming up soon.  But it is of the code-driven, technical-installation driven nature.  I doubt  the subject of polysilicon will be discussed.

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