Solar Panels despite being mostly a commodity comes in a wide variety of types,technology,prices,size and colors.You can read an introduction about the lowest cost panels here.With there being no global index of Solar Panel Prices and with Prices of Solar Panels forming very quickly,its a difficult problem in acquiring the cheapest solar panels.The problem is compounded for solar panel buyers because these panels are typically sold by wholesalers and distributors who charge fat margins without providing any additional value.Also due to the lack of knowledge about the quality and the properties of solar panels,buyers generally get fleeced.Also panels are seldom sold separately as it is generally part of the overall package of the complete installation of panels,inverters,wiring,connection and integration.Here is a quick overview of which are the companies which make the lowest cost solar panels on the planet at a good quality and the most recent prices which they are selling at.Notice that the European and Japanese solar panels are of much higher price despite there being very little to differentiate themselves from Asian solar panels.
Rosatom has strong competencies despite the Chernobyl disaster as a black mark in its history.The Company has already constructed reactors in China,India and Iran during the Soviet Union Days and is constructing 5 reactors in foreign markets.With strong technology expertise and with laxer safety standards at home,it is trying to outflank Areva in its home turf.Note Areva is already facing losses from the Finland Nuclear Project which has proved to be a huge disaster.It additionally faces competition from Toshiba-Westinghouse which is ramping up its efforts to compete with Areva.GE-Hitachi suffers from a technological handicap compared with Toshiba and Areva,however GE cannot be underestimated because of its Global Reach and Industrial Strengths.Rosatom is that last thing that Areva needs in its shrinking home turf of Europe.Germany is facing huge opposition just for extending the life of its nuclear reactors while France has pretty much saturated its Electricity Market with Nuclear Energy.
Saint Gobain like Semiconductor Giant TSMC is betting on Copper Indium Gallium Selenium (CIGs) Technology rather than the mainstream crystalline silicon technology.CIGs is getting the most significant investments these days compared to other thin film technology.Yesterday Ascent Solar (ASTI) got an IEC certification for its flexible modules which would enable it to target the mainstream rooftop market from niche applications earlier.Miasole has improved the efficiency and costs of it CIGs greatly while Nanosolar can’t be counted out because of its strong backers.Solyndra however remains mostly in the shadows despite around $1 billion in private investment.Stion is another strong contender partnering with TSMC and also thinking of opening a plant in Taiwan on its own as well.Saint Gobain is already a big player in the solar market as it suppliers glass to a lot of solar companies for their modules.Getting into panel manufacturing will further allow it to get a foothold of this new potentially giant industry.Du Pont,Dow Chemicals,Corning all have considerable presence in the solar equipment market as well.
The US Federal Reserve is hell bent on preventing deflation through whatever means possible.It has raised the prospect of 2008 when Commodities all over the world raced to new highs due to cuts in Interest Rates.2010 has already seen its first food riots in Africa and 2011 should more of the same.Every Commodity be it Gold,Silver,Coffee,Sugar,Rice,Wheat is jumping higher as the common denominator Dollar gets Debased by US Policies.While the stupidness of the Monetary Easing is a big exhaustive issue in itself,the prospect of higher commodity prices is a huge danger.It is already fueling dangerous equity bubbles in the emerging markets of Asia.Currency Wars are already starting to happen on a small scale as Crazy Monetary Policies take hold in the US.Food Prices are a very major problem in poor countries unlike developed countries where food forms only a small part of the daily expenditure.With Food forming 50-80% of the expenditure of poor citizens,a 50% increase in Prices immediately leads to hunger and starvation.However don’t think the US Fed concerns itself with such trivial issues.
Constellation Energy has become the latest USA Utility to cancel its proposed new nuclear energy plant to be built in Maryland.Despite a Loan Guarantee from Department of Energy (DOE) as part of the US Green Stimulus,Constellation has found the economics of the Nuclear Reactors as unworkable.In fact this is keeping with the trend of other utilities in the Developed World who have found New Nuclear to be too expensive.While a number of cyclical factors are at play (Wind Energy has also been affected) in hindering the development of these plants,it seems a secular shift has occured.Finland has become the poster boy of a Nuclear Project Disaster with the main developer Areva bleeding from losses as time and cost overruns have almost doubled.The increaseing costs of environment and safety regulations has increase manifold since the last spurt of nuclear energy construction in the 1980s.The Nuclear Renaissance has proven to be a complete failure in the Western Countries.While China continues with its aggressive Nuclear Expansion plans,construction in the US has come to a virtual halt.Exelon which is the largest Nuclear Energy Operator in the USA has also halted developed of 2 new reactors in Texas.These Utilities have said that they need much higher energy prices and a carbon tax before going ahead with reaction construction.Note Exelon recently bought a Wind Energy Operator as Solar/Wind become the favored Green Energy choices.