Photovoltaic solar panels : price & production
There are two kinds of solar panels, photovoltaic and thermal, those of interest here are the photovoltaic (PV) that convert light into electricity. Antoine Becquerel is that in 1839, discovered that some materials could generate electricity when exposed to light. It’s only in the 70s that the first "rush" Sun has taken place, the conquest of space technology and has developed the first oil crisis has created the need. The rising price of oil since 1998 was the sunbeam of the sector of solar energy, we live the second rush.
Photovoltaic, dead-end technological sector or future?
I. Photovoltaic cells.
Photovoltaic cells that make up a solar panel fabrication using silicon (Si) from quartz, silicon is used as a semiconductor in solar panels because it's the semiconductor as profitable as the most abundant. The silicon must be pure 99.9999% (solar grade) for use in photovoltaic cells. This grade of silicon is obtained with temperature of 1,500 ° in a sealed enclosure to prevent any pollution; process is complex and energy and is the weak point in the manufacturing of solar panels.
Once obtained, this block of pure silicon is cut into thin slices (wafers) with diamond saws and chemically treated with acid to remove impurities from its surface. Costs decrease with the thickness of the "wafer" tranches, more it is thin and more we can make it: in the same block of silicon, thereby lowering production costs.
There are several types of photovoltaic cells, monocrystalline silicon cell, silicon is first class, consisting of a single crystal silicon. He has a good performance but it is more expensive and complex for most energy to produce. The multi-crystalline cells are made from silicon and consisting of a lower quality of several crystals, less expensive than single crystal, but with a lower output. The tandem multi-junction cells are composed of several layers of silicon. They have better performance but are more expensive. Cells cis semiconductor technology is different, using metals such as copper indium, selenium, gallium and germanium as a semiconductor instead of silicon. The amorphous solar cells using silane gas (SiH4) produced by silicon on glass (plastic, metal, glass). The cost and performance are low, the advantage is that it works in low light and that the support can be flexible.
Each type of solar cell has a different efficiency and cost of manufacturing. And a solar panel for a house will not have the same performance and price as for a satellite. The cells are multi-crystalline silicon that are most used for their report cost / performance.
II. Production capacity of solar panels in the world.
The solar panel production has started waking in 1998, since the price of oil began its dizzying ascent too. The price of oil has increased sevenfold from 1998 to 2008 and at the same time the capacity of electricity generation from photovoltaic solar panels has been multiplied by 20.
In 2008 and 2009, despite the sharp drop in oil prices, capacity electricity generation from photovoltaic cells continued to grow because the crisis has caused a drop in manufacturing costs and because in the long term price Oil remains in a very bullish trend. The increased capacity of generating electricity from solar panels in the world was 70% in 2008 and 47% in 2009 (36% per year on average since 1998), is an area where the sun shines despite crisis.
The countries where there is most solar panels: Germany with 9,677 megawatts, or 47% of solar panels in the world, but only 1% of national electricity production. The second country is Spain with 3,423 megawatts, or 16% of global capacity, but only 2% of the country's production. The German capacity was multiplied by 179 and 3423 by Spanish since 1998.
The third country in the world is Japan with 2,628 megawatts, the fourth the U.S. with 1645 megawatts and the fifth in Italy with 1,188 megawatts.
The remaining 23 countries only represent 11% of installed capacity in solar panels in South Korea, Czech Republic, France, Belgium, China, Australia, India, Canada, Portugal, Switzerland, Holland, Greece, Austria, England, Mexico, Israel, Malaysia, Sweden, Norway, Bulgaria, Finland, Turkey, Denmark.
If we divide the production capacity of solar panels by the number of people we see that Germany has a capacity of 118 watts per capita, Spain, 73 watts and 20 watts Japan, France 0.6 watt China 0.2 watts and 0.1 watts India and the world average is 3.3 watts.
For China reaches the level of Japan, its production should be multiplied by * 92 to reach one of Spain by 334 and that of Germany by * 531. China is the world's leading producer of solar panels and it seems very likely that once it has solar panels sold around the world it will also become the largest producer of solar photovoltaics. China now prefers to export its production of solar panels at full throttle, but tomorrow it is very likely to decrease its energy dependence it will cover the country with solar panels.
The production capacity of India must be multiplied to reach the 200 level of Japan, by 716 and that of Spain in 1139 to that of Germany.
The production capacity of China and India, meeting represents 2% of production capacity of photovoltaic electricity in the world while their population accounts for 37% of world population and that China makes half of the solar panels in the world .
France should increase its production capacity by 37 to get the level of Japan, by 133 to that of Spain and 212 for that of Germany.
Europe has three quarters of installed capacity in solar photovoltaic panels in the world, but this capability is still very unevenly distributed, these differences should diminish in the years to come. Thus France is expected to significantly grow the installation of photovoltaic solar panels, it has a large population and few panels installed (same for England, Holland or Turkey).
III. Photovoltaic panels: perspectives.
The pessimistic of yesterday about the solar still are today. But prospects for growth in the manufacturing and installation of solar panels remain exponential. In 2007 and 2008, world production of solar panels was limited by the capacity of silicon grade solar. There was not enough factories capable of producing silicon grade solar "for solar panels. Quartz required to manufacture silicon has not missed unlike factories capable of producing silicon grade solar "insufficient. Again this year, world's largest producer of solar panels using 100% of its production capacity. European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) requires that the production capacity of electricity from solar panels to China-fold increase of *6 or *8 to 2014. In France, it should be multiplied by 10 (pessimistic scenario) to 20 times (optimistic scenario). Growth will also be important in the USA (from * 6 * 11), England (* 21 * 36) and even Germany, the No. 1 solar electricity, the production capacity of photovoltaic electricity expected to double, triple until 2014. The share of renewables (solar, geothermal, wind) should double by IAE to the U.S. in 15 years.
According to the IEA, the production of electricity from solar panels in the world should rise from 37 TWh to 4572 TWh (multiplied by 123) by 2050. The share of photovoltaic power generation would increase from 0.5% to over 10% of global electricity production. Photovoltaic solar panels require energy for their manufacture, but less and less. On a roof facing south, it takes between 1.6 and 3.3 years for the panels produce more energy than is required for their manufacture. In 2020, period should fall to 1 year and then six months in 2050 due to higher performance photovoltaic solar panels. The current lifespan of a solar panel is 30 years, during the 30 year it produce between eight and 18 times the energy needed to manufacture it.
Trend is to lower subsidies in many countries, but the rising price of electricity. The lower manufacturing costs and technological world entails the mass production of photovoltaic panels will offset the reduction in subsidies. The cost of photovoltaic power generation should be divided by 4 or 5 by 2050. Engine production and installation of solar photovoltaic panels in the world in the long term does not lie in subsidies. It's in the rising price of oil for this reason I come here about the solar panels. Usually, mining and oil are my favourite subjects. Structural trend bullish oil price leads to mechanically rising energy prices, fossil, mineral and electricity. Thus the PV approaches gradually the production costs of conventional electricity (natural gas, coal, uranium, oil ...).
For example, geothermal high energy has many advantages (performance, availability ...) however it lacks the "flexibility" installation. He must live in a world region proper, own a few acres, have 200 million dollars to invest and take between eight and 10 years to produce electricity. Geothermal energy is high long and expensive to install, but with excellent performance. The PV is easily accessible with little investment and flexible. The high energy geothermal and solar are complementary and not competitive. The high geothermal energy and solar photovoltaics are promised bright future...
Photovoltaic solar panels will remain indispensable in the next decade for the production of electricity. Their technology is operational, decentralized, reliable and competitors are scarce. Like all forms of production of energy, solar photovoltaic panels are not perfect, but their flaws are becoming better understood. The technology is improving and the trend of energy prices is extremely favourable. Photovoltaic panels are necessary complements to the production of electricity "classic", they are not THE solution to peak oil, but they are part of the solution. If you missed the first decade of industry growth, do not miss the next...
Dr Thomas Chaize