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Jenny Chase @solar_chase
, 32 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
It's 9am on a Sunday morning and time to update my #unpopularopinions on #solar thread from a year ago*. I've mellowed in some respects, so only some will be unpopular. I'm not gonna wait for likes in case nobody does.

1. #Solar wafer, cell or module manufacturing is a terrible business to be in, with vicious price competition and last mover advantage. Most well-known manufacturers are saddled with heavy debt they took on to build their rapidly-becoming-outdated factories.
2. Crystalline silicon technology is good enough. Another great module technology, either making a multiple junction cell with c-Si or replacing c-Si, would be nice and make money for the company that does it, but not fundamentally alter the dynamics of the industry.
3. Countries that have built little solar to date are not "losing" to high-solar countries. They wisely waited for a bargain on price!
4. The more a solar company's pitch is about the enviro-social value of solar in general, the less likely it is to be a good company.
5. I refuse to get excited about perovskites until a perovskite company can disclose a partnership with a named major module maker.
6. Curtailment (cutoff when the grid can’t take all production) of solar is going to be a widespread phenomenon. It's a feature, not necessarily a bug.
7. A lot of current household PV systems are designed suboptimally and make little economic sense, but their owners like them anyway. Nonetheless, you may as well slap as many panels on as your roof fits unless you have a lot of shading.
8. Rooftop solar mandates on new construction (like California's) are a good idea. There will never be a better time in the roof's life to add solar than when workers are already on the roof, now the kit is so cheap.
9. In northern Europe, wind is better matched to peak demand times than solar. However, solar is cheaper and may often win tech-agnostic tenders. Increasingly governments will need to stop solar from stealing wind's lunch for this reason.
10. Floating solar is a thing, but it's still not a new technology. It is solar onna boat.
11. Unless civilisation collapses, nearly all forecasts of solar deployment, including ours, underestimate the long term contribution of PV to the world energy supply.
12. Recycling solar panels will not prove to be a huge challenge. What has held it back so far is that the vast majority of solar panels ever made are still in use, so it's hard to get economies of scale in recycling.
13. We're in for a couple of years of flattish prices in solar tenders, generally $25-35/MWh in sunny risky countries with a few below in sunny stable ones. Many Indian projects which bid low prices won't be built at those prices.
14. Auctions and tenders are going to get increasingly sophisticated, driving systems designed to produce power at the best times. Many projects will face west-ish to serve the evening peak.
15. Solar thermal tower and heliostat designs are still not working well. We may even end up using molten salt for multi-day and seasonal storage... but heat it with PV.
16. Solar does reduce carbon emissions, but other measures such as better insulation, public transport and flying less are more short-term effective on the personal and country planning scale.
17. We might actually manage to decarbonise our civilisation before we boil ourselves, but it's going to be close, and it's going to require people in the developed world to tolerate some inconvenience.
18. Nuclear is not the enemy, and early nuclear plant closures are bad news. On the other hand, given costs, timelines and resistance, new nuclear may not be coming to the rescue either.
19. Operation and maintenance in desert environments will prove more challenging than PV project stakeholders expect.
20. Traded electricity wholesale markets are the worst way of deciding how to dispatch energy resources, except for all the others that have been tried.
21. Many solar project developers complaining their problem is 'finance' are being disingenuous. Their problem is, their project is rubbish and they cannot convince anyone otherwise.
22. Building-integrated PV products are usually attempts to sell bad solar products for premium prices to gullible aesthetes and architects.
23. Job creation from solar will be less than solar advocates forecast. Relatedly, solar cost will be lower than anyone currently forecasts.
24. Offgrid solar is driven more by people wanting TVs than by people wanting their kids to have light to do homework. And that’s okay.
25. Commercial and residential power pricing structures are going to get more complicated to reflect cheap midday solar. The main role of smart home technology is to take advantage of this.
26. There is enough land for lots of solar. There are enough golf courses in the US for about 370GW, ffs.
27. Getting to 100% renewables is really hard, but getting to 50%, 60%, 70% will not be as hard as we think and after that we will have a better toolkit for the rest.
28. Very few people who are not solar project financiers understand tax treatment for solar projects (I don’t) and it’s important enough to make most calculated LCOEs irrelevant to auction prices.
29. ‘Energy poverty’ isn’t a particularly useful term and is too often co-opted by the people who use a lot of energy (ie the rich) to complain that they pay too much. Poverty is bad already and isn’t the same as things being expensive. Cheap energy for poor people is good, tho.
30. If you’re recording PV capacity and only have room for one figure, record MW(DC). It will tell you more about what the project will produce and what it will cost than MW(AC). See imperfect explanation here:
31. Electric vehicles don't ease congestion in cities. They do however save energy and with flexible charging can make the grid much better at using large volumes of solar and wind energy without problems.
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