Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Pricing Cuts Promote Commercial Scale Solar Power Development

According to panelists at the 12th Annual Electric Power Conference and Exhibition in Baltimore this week, decreasing material and construction costs of commercial scale photovoltaic power plants [PV] and thermoelectric solar power production facilities [CSP/CST] are promoting commercial scale solar power production developments in climates where sunlight is available most of the year to “fuel” such facilities. Leo Casey, Vice President and Chief Technical Officer of Satcom Technology Corp. in Boston told attendees that utility scale installation cost for PV facilities has dropped from $5 per watt to $4 per watt already, and he expects future pricing cuts down to the level of $1 per watt for solar panels and $1.50 per watt for construction cost, or a total of as little as $2.50 per watt of installed capacity. According to William Bettenberg of Applied Materials, Inc., more and more utility companies are embracing PV technology, with 485 megawatts of PV generating capacity installed last year.

Bob McDonald of Skyline Solar, Inc., echoed the same theme regarding CSP/CST solar power production facilities. McDonald cited both reduced module cost and improved installation expense as contributing to an improved position for commercial scale solar thermal power generation, particularly since the stored heat involved in the CSP/T process makes such production facilities especially useful as load following power generation facilities, rapidly becoming less expensive to build than other types of “peaker” generating units.

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