Thursday, April 14, 2005

Better Late: Nanosolar Update

I just found this review of Nanosolar at Monkeysign, including the first skeptical article on the subject (aside from mine), a piece by John P. Mello, Jr. appearing in TechNewsWorld. The Monkeysign article provides some useful back-of-the-envelope calculations on the cost of solar, noting that inverters alone, even if financed with a 0% interest rate loan, would cost around $0.055/kWh. That Nanosolar presents operational costs at around $0.05/kWh is therefore somewhat at odds with this figure:
The only way Nanosolar could possibly eliminate [the requirement for inverter usage] is to manufacture modules that produce AC power, suffer little to no efficiency loss at high temperatures, and can be installed virtually for free.

Perhaps they have done that. More likely, in my opinion, they have not considered BOS [balance-of-systems] costs or, as one of Mello's sources suspects, they have been creative with their amortization calculations. Another of Mello's sources suspects that they are overly optimistic in their manufacturing cost calculations, pointing out that such costs are commonly underestimated when transferring laboratory technologies to commercial production.

In one of the comments, the Engineer-Poet notes that inverter costs are actually a function of production scale. Lastly, someone posting under the name Roscheisen says about what you might expect someone working for the company to say. For me, I'll believe it when I see it.