Probir Ghosh's Comments

February 13, 2013

100 GW of Solar PV Now Installed in the World Today

Can we dare dream of 1,000GW by 2020? That may be 15% of global installed capacity, but less than 7% of generation capacity, since Solar PLFs is around 20% compared to 80% for coal based power plants. Incredulous as it may sound,this can be a stretch goal. Forrestor Research product penetration benchmark graph showed many high technology products took decades to penetrate the first 5% but when it takes off,it took them less than 2 decades to cross 50% adoption; digital cameras, DVDs and even color TVs are great examples. 2030 is a more likely goal, given some major technology challenges to be resolved still. However, if USA & India matches China's about turn to exponentially grow solar intalls in their own country, 1,000GW may become a reality by early next decade. While the emphasis has been on large utility scale solar in India, the real opportunity may be in off-grid solar through a robust microfinancing model that Bangladesh has successfully adpoted. India has the dire need for power and solar can be a very viable solution that can be installed much faster than tradional power plants where one also has to worry about getting adequate coal or gas supplies. India should be targeting 50GW by 2022 as solar may be the only distributed solution that can be installed rapidly. Now that India has 1GW running, financial institutions can get real time data, figure out a risk mitigated approach to provide a lower cost debt in the 6-8% range, perhaps combining with International insitutions or even Utilities to accelerate the pace of installs. Also, 50GW target may be the only vaible approach to nuture a profitable manufacturing set-up in India, it currently lacks scale to survive. USA can regain global leadership in solar, including manufacturing, if we can target 100GW+ by 2020. Solar Energy will be the growth engine for the next two decades, despite its current turmoil just like the shakeout in the early 2000's. Can we lead the way?

February 11, 2013

Here Comes Another Solar Trade Dispute

Focusing on short term disputes may land both USA & India many steps backwards in having some control of the end to end value chain for solar as well as any other key products and services both countries hope to trade in. The fact is, almost all countries have some kind of trade barriers and disputes. China is positioning itself to produce P-Si modules at 45 cents/w or less by 2015 as reported by GTM. Modules are now sold at 45 cents/w wholesale price due to large inventories, as supply is 2 times demand. So lifting domestic content by itself in India will not give any extra business to USA and will take away any sales in CdTe First Solar is making in India to the Chinese tier 1 and 2 companies. Most US manufacturers have mfg plants in China but have no or little sales in China, low prices are just one of the issues. It will be interesting to see what % of 10GW of solar PV China plans to install in 2013 will come from USA or other countries outside China. While in short term, developers for both USA and India would like to see the lowest module prices possible, it will be like "killing the goose that laid golden eggs",if manufacturing is making huge losses.Both the countires have to have robust manufacturing centers to have some control of a sustainable value chain. Even innovation w/o robust mfg will fade. Labour cost is a very small % of solar manufacturing cost, that can be wiped out by shipping & handling, & damage/replacement costs. If USA and India can each have a demand for solar PV that is at least 15% & 10% of global supply, (9&6GW by 2015?), a sustainable value chain can be established. The issues need to be resloved with a long term end to end value chain control/access in mind. Perhaps a limit on supply from a single source/country, with domestic supply of 50% preference subject to a 20% price subsidy that reduces to 0 by 2015, maybe one approach. I think both countries need to focus on exponentially increasing demand on a war footing.

Probir Ghosh

Probir Ghosh

WE are an advisory organization with deep expertise in crafting overall Sustainable Practice Strategy and implementation planning for mid to large sized organizations that maximizes the best return on investment while transitioning the...

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