Saturday, May 23, 2015

Some Good News In The Old Karroo



I write so often of gangrene frauds and hucksters who fleece the taxpayers and ratepayers that it is often hard to find a green lining in greenexplored.  I have stayed true to the mission of this site that I set in 2007 and is as follows:

Mission
There are numerous opinions and claims about sustainable and green products. However, many of these opinions and claims are supported by neither science nor fact. Green Explored provides the reader with a humorous primer on green and sustainability that is easily understood by the layperson. Spurious claims are shot down while honesty is applauded. Those who break the laws of thermodynamics are punished with the Gangrene Award.

It is time to applaud some honesty.

In 2007 the Chinese as well as others in Japan, the US, Europe, and elsewhere started to set about to produce solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.  Most manufacturers settled on silicon as the basis for the PV cells.  Some went the thin film route with either cadmium telluride or CIGS as the chemistry.  Let’s applaud Silicon as it works, it is cost effective, it has become massive, and it has simply exceeded all expectations of generating hundreds of thousands of gigawatt hours of electrical energy that simply never existed a decade ago.


Of course many PV cells were installed in places with little sunshine and governments subsidized many projects.  These sunsidized (yes a new word for wrongly subsidized) projects span from the Bronx to Berlin.  But many cells have brought electricity to remote places that simply would still be in the dark had silicon PV cells not dropped massively in price.  Most of the price drop occurred in three years from 2010 to 2013 when China simply clobbered the competition by massive investment in the entire supply chain from metallurgical silicon to fully assembled solar panels (modules).    

China has it failed PV companies (STP and LDK) and two more large manufacturers may go bust in the coming months (Yingli and Hanergy).  But one thing China did accomplish is that it put PV power on the map.  Yes on the map from the Atacama in Chile to the Karroo in South Africa.  I feel proud that I advised on the first massive PV project in the Atacama (The CAP SA 100 megawatt project).  PV brought me to Chile for a couple of trips. 

I never imagined I would set foot in the Atacama but I did.  Growing up in South Africa, I certainly set foot in the Karroo.  Who knows I may get to be an advisor on PV project there as well.  I remember driving the road from Kimberly to De Aar that was straight as an arrow and wondering what on earth could ever grow there.  Well solar farms can grow on that arid scrubland.   PV can finally put De Aar on the map.


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