Not the First Solar plant in question, merely representative... Photo: First Solar
At least according to the calculations of one analyst, a 12.5 MW solar power system installed by First Solar for Sempra Generation produces electricity at a lower cost, without any subsidies, than conventional fossil fuel generated power.
Mark Bachman, at Pacific Crest, concluded that the electricity from the First Solar system cost $0.075 per kilowatt hour to install, while conventional power cost $0.09 per kWh. Here’s how Bachman came to that conclusion:Crystalline Silicon v. Thin Film Compared
As I don’t have access to the actual research note, I’m going to have to rely on this summary from Greentech Media,
The $40 million system at Sempra is comprised of 168,300 panels, which First Solar installed at a cost of $3.17 per watt, Bachman wrote. (The installed cost is higher because it includes frames and installation, not just the solar module.)
He then used SunPower's installation of a 14.2-megawatt system at the Nellis Air Force base in Nevada for comparison. Bachman said SunPower's crystalline silicon panels cost $7.04 per watt to install.
After figuring out how much electricity the system is generating, Bachman determined that it costs $0.164 per kilowatt hour.
He concluded that for the SunPower system to generate electricity at the same rate (in kilowatt-hour) as First Solar's, SunPower would have to cut its panel prices by 52 percent and sell them at $3.4 per watt.
via: Greentech Media
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