Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Not a Million Dollar Baby

In 1956, Daryl Chapin calculated a homeowner would have to pay $1,430,000 for an array large enough to power an average home. Faced with these high prices Daryl Chapin asked, "What to do with our new baby?" 

Current prices in Germany

A 12 kW system for 1367 €/kW (1780 USD/kW). Trina panels and Fronius inverter.
A 10 kW system for 1650 €/kW (2150 USD/kW). Mage panels and Danfoss inverter.
A 7.65 kW system for 1730 €/kW (2250 USD/kW). Aleo panels and Kaco inverter.
A 11 kW system for 1550 €/kW (2020 USD/kW). Trina panels.
A 4 kW system for 1800 €/kW (2340 USD/kW). CSI panels and SMA inverter.

The German market has had five weeks to respond to the new FiT rates. Average prices appear to have fallen to around 1700 Euro/kW. This exceptionally sharp drop has been driven by two, maybe three general factors. 1. Extra demand before the FiT cut held Q1 prices up. 2. The FiT cuts were deep. Put these things together and you get big adjustment.

The correction in average prices may also be related to the new FiT tranches. The popular 10 to 30 kW tranche was absorbed into a larger 10 to 100 kW tranche. This was a double whammy for the 10 to 30 kW tranche because this market segment had to absorb the lower FiTs associated with a higher tranche and a FiT reduction associated with the program overhaul. This took the FiT from 24.43 ct/kWh to 16.5 ct/kWh. In 2011, 20% of the market - a full 1500 MW - consisted of systems sized 10 to 30 kW. It will be interesting to see how this market segment develops this year. Judging from the prices I'm seeing it's going to be a good year.

Fun Fact # 1: Average household electricity consumption in Germany is approximately 3500 kWh/year.
Fun Fact # 2: Each kW of capacity in Germany will produce 700 to 900 kWh per year.

From these numbers you can figure a homeowner in Southern Germany would need a 4 kW photoelectric system to cover 100% of their annual electricity demand. At current prices this would come to 7200 Euro (9370 USD).

Things have come a long way. What to do with our new baby!

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