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Solar Energy Investment Summit: The $100 Billion Conference

Bill Roth | Monday November 9th, 2009 | 9 Comments

solar-moneySolar panels now only account for approximately 40 percent of the cost of a solar power system. And most technology studies project the cost of panels to continue its drop as a percentage of plant cost with continued advancements in technology and manufacturing.

While this lower cost curve for solar technology is important, terms and availability of financing will determine solar’s future growth. From a financing perspective buying solar is “going long” on electricity. It is a 20-year “put” that locks in an amount and price of electricity. And this upfront 20-year financial put means the cost and terms of financing are as critical, or more so, to the economic viability of a solar installation as the cost of panels.

For this reason I am attending the  2nd Annual Solar Energy Investment & Finance Summit being held November 12-13 at the Hotel Nikko in San Francisco. It is a great opportunity to hear what the big money people like GE Energy Financial Services, Lazard Freres & Co and Morgan Stanley think the terms and conditions should be for financing a solar system.

Also speaking will be representatives from the electric utilities. They set the terms and conditions for Power Purchase Agreements and the potential for feed-in tariffs that underpin any solar financing, from roof top to utility scale. The big three of PG&E, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric will all have speakers.

But I am a numbers guy, so let me give you the number that is driving my attendance. It is $100 billion. That is the estimated financing needed to execute the renewable energy goals now in place in 39 states. And how to finance it, determining who will receive financing and under what terms and conditions is what will be discussed at this conference. I will be the bald guy smiling in the back of the conference room listening real close to figuring out how I can contribute toward earning .00001 ($1M) through enabling the financing of solar power. And the idea of the Hotel Nikko filled with like-minded entrepreneurs is the reason I think we will see both a sustainable environment and economy. Hope to see you there!


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  • Pingback: Solar Energy Investment Summit: The $100 Billion Conference - Triple Pundit | Build Solar Power Systems()

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=604579026 Michelle Gabriel

    Wish I could go but $$$. Can you tell me a reference for your figure that 40% of the cost comes from the panels?
    Thanks!
    Michelle

  • http://www.earth2017.com Bill Roth

    Hi Michelle,

    Thanks for your question. I have ongoing communications with companies developing solar power systems. They are telling me the price per watt for panels, depending upon technology, averages around $2-2.50. Roof top solar system are selling for around $6-7 per watt. So I conservatively calculated 40%. Hope this helps.

    • Russ

      Is the remainder of the cost mostly contained in installation labor cost? I’d love to see a breakdown that shows where the $$$ goes for a typical consumer install.

      • http://www.earth2017.com Bill Roth

        Hi Russ, I wish I could give a dollar for dollar breakdown but remember I am getting to look at some people’s confidential information so I hope you appreciate I have to answer with generalities. The balance of plant is labor, infrastructure like the support system and wiring and the converter that converts the DC current produced by the solar panel to the AC current used by our utilities and appliances. Hope this helps. Bill

  • Pingback: Solar Energy Investment Summit: The $100 Billion Conference - Triple Pundit | Build Solar Power Systems Reviews()

  • Uncle B

    The great hulking American Neanderthal, spawn of over 200 years of capitalism force feeding his traits, now replaced by cheaper Chinese labor, and about to face his extinction, his dollar no longer able to command 80% of the worlds resources to satisfy himself. He will suffer greatly as his affluenza and sense of entitlement is denied by Asian over-lords, Arab Princes, OPEC and others in Europe, and his dollar free-falls into the abyss, printed with no backing by his Businessmen and locking him into an inflationary spiral upwards and with no top! Even Beijing, gamblers at heart have turned him down, trillions in loans refused, and he sits treading water, paying interest on previous loans, facing the calling of some of them, and lacking the ability to produce his way out, and his military totally dependent of foreign oil for its existance, locked in mercenary missions for oil to serve OPEC and the Saudis, and facing conscription to continue! His great wasteful habits, huge diets, affluenza, sense of entitlement, prevent him from adopting means so weak and innocuous as Solar, Wind, Wave, Tidal, Hydro, of Geo-thermal power, he opts for Nuclear only to find himself with enough bombs at home to destroy the world twenty times over, and inadequate technology to build safe Thorium reactors, or modern reactors of any sort! The fool has locked himself into his own militaristics, a paranoia renowned, he is even prepared to fight enemies that do not exist, but can’t boil tea without oil, coal or Uranium! Sad animal facing rapid demise! His own country raped of resources, fouled by pollution in their retrieval, his high calorie, over muscled body hungry for the wages he once demanded in the process, facing poverty, inflation, oil shortages, corn crops growing smaller, lacking oil and fertilizer, and capital, gone now to higher ROI’s in Asia, He will be a very hungry beast before his demise, and a small bit of Solar action will hardly entertain him! It is a situational extinction! Sad but true!

  • Laurie Martin

    I think this is the must read article for those who are really worried about their energy expenses..Keep it up and keep posting

    • http://www.earth2017.com Bill Roth

      Lauren, thank you for your positive comment. It is very motivating to hear this type of positive feedback. Have a great day!

  • matteo

    The costo of solar module is lower than 40 % if we consider the thin film technology that use CIGS. There are few company that use this type of panel but the future is very great and brithness for this company because the lower cost of production (<1$/Wp) advantage toward silicon module.
    These use a plastic substrate respect a glass substrate so the module is very light and flexible.

    Thank you

    • http://www.earth2017.com Bill Roth

      Right you are Matteo! I am very encouraged that solar technologies are in place now, and emerging, that will continue to drive down the cost of solar panels. And I expect competition will also achieve similar impacts on the other costs of plant. Solar has a bright future! (Sorry for the pun, couldn’t help myself!)