Its kinda funny how every single week you hear the media hyping about "efficient and low cost solar cells" which will one day be available to everyone.
Unfortunately this hype is simply not justified with reality.
The materials I use to make my solar cells cost $2000 and efficiency barely ever reaches 10%. For higher efficiencies (>30%) it costs even more just to acquire the basic materials. Not to mention most of these solar cell materials are all patented, which is the very reason why they are so ridiculously expensive in the first place.
The reason why you see solar cells like pic related is because its more profitable to manufacture them in that way.
The very notion of "low cost energy generation" is completely laughable and fundamentally incompatible with conventional economics.
I'm guessing "working in the field" means that Anon is the grunt who reads the number off the scale when they test the integrity of the piles/footings that solar panels are mounted on.
I have high hopes for solar energy, but a big issue is raw materials. We already use so much silicon for computers, and we would need so much more to provide solar power for the whole country. We need to figure out how to harness solar energy using a more abundant material.
Silicon is literally as abundant as dirt.
It's the bullshit rare-earth elements involved that make them expensive.
If solar panels were sustainable, we'd have solar-panel powered solar-panel factories already. The whole vertically integrated supply system of solar panel production would be powered with solar panels. This is not the case, it will never be the case. Solar panels are niche products that will never substitute hydrocarbon energy sources.
So we have a shitton of toxic waste from solar panel production using up rare-earth elements, it's obviously a dead-end technology, I don't know why people think it's viable. Even with the costs subsidized, their break-even point from a cost-benefit analysis spans over 15 years.
Wind is okay, where it works, solar is strictly for niche applications, off-the-grid, or for space craft, ect. Spain is going bankrupt with it's shitty solar power plants.
A company spends a lot of money to develop a product and you expect them to just give it away?
Then the Chinese would have nobody to steal stuff from if we were just giving it away. Takes the fun out of it.
>We already use so much silicon for computers, and we would need so much more to provide solar power for the whole country.
I'll take "What is the second most abundant element in Earth's crust" for $500 Alex.
A crazy guy I follow on youtube powers his entire family's personal electricity needs, manufacturing, and transportation with just a few solar cells and boat batteries and he's been unemployed for the majority of a decade.
>A company spends a lot of money to develop a product and you expect them to just give it away?
Look up the patent paradox. The vast majorty of patents are completely useless and companies only hang on to them because they might hit big on one of them someday. Patents are basically lottery tickets.
Also patents make scalability much harder. Say If you have a company x and wants to use company y patented tech. Now company x has to pay cash flow draining royalties to company y.
Tellurium is not a rare-earth metal. Also, most photovoltaics are based off silicon, and use nothing more than silicon and trace levels of dopants. The difficulty is in producing the ultrapure silicon needed for efficient operation.
No, tellurium is not at all common, it's about as common in the earths crust as palladium or platinum. Maybe it's really abundant in distant galaxies or something, but lettuce be cereal here.
I don't get why they bother building solar panels in wintery northern climates. The solar irradiance/insolation is shitty. The whole thing is horribly inefficient by location alone.
Your central point here is correct, but the term you are using refers to a certain group of elements, not 'metals that are rare and come from the Earth'.
I'm not the guy you were talking to. I'm just pointing out the misunderstanding here so that you can tell this guy to eat shit when he ignores the crux of what you're saying.
Please look up the definition of "rare-earth metal". It still doesn't address my point that most solar panels are made of 99.999% silicon doped with ppm quantities of elements like phosphorus and boron.
>It's kinda funny how you're lying about working in the field.
Thank you. I have worked in the field and the way OP talks makes me think he hasn't.
10% efficient? Even crappy modules are 15% efficient. Last time I checked, SunPower has a 20% efficient model or around there.
I think it's cute how people use efficiency to attempt to knock on solar. First, it's not really about efficiency, it's about dollars and space. If the price is competitive with other technologies (grid parity, which is being reached more and more everyday throughout the world) and you have the space, then solar is competitive. And when I see 20% efficient, I think to myself, wow, we have so much room for improvement from this point.