Tag Archives: solar panels

Solar panels are not us

NICE PIECE on the Examiner today – yeah, I’m biased – about solar panels from Subhankar Kundu. The semiconductor companies are cheesed off with the Indian government not helping them enough.

We had a chat about this. A fab costs $2 billion at least to build. Orders are falling, falling, falling. This is the first time the clearly cyclical semi business has experienced this. TSMC is at 40% capacity. So will the fabs shift to producing polysilicon for the solar panel business? It’s not so easy. All it will take is for photovoltaic panels to become cheap and the famous Moore’s Law will kick in. And countries like India which have heaps of sun will benefit.

Will it happen?  Probably not for a good while. It’s a crying shame. ♦

Solar panels score in 2008

HERE ARE the results of a whole year garnering electricity from 15 Sanyo solar panels on top of a terraced house in North London. The panels were first installed in March 2007, so this is the first full year of results available.


This table below shows an estimate of what the panels have delivered since installation, together with a rough idea of the money they’ve generated.


For more on the system installed, check here, and here, and here. As well as on this bog, here and here.

Dull in November 2008, but panels still fly

NOVEMBER 2008 was not the sunniest of Novembers we’ve had, but the 15 Sanyo panels on the roof continue to deliver bijli (‘lectricity) to the house and to the UK’s National Grid.

Here’s a screen grab of what happened in November 2008, and because the system has run for not too far short of two years now, we can contrast this with November 2007.   Was the 30th of November so dull that no light shone from the south? Surely not.


Hang on – according to the November 2007 screengrab below, there wasn’t a 30th of November last year either. Perhaps there is a bug in the Fronius software?


Anyway, facts are facts. Since the system first started, we have been in credit with our electricity supplier – it owes money. And the National Grid scheme pays cash for the contribution the panels make. It is a daft idea installing panels unless you really go for it – it’s obvious that you have to place them in the right place, and polysilicon is at a premium right now, so they still remain expensive.

Perhaps with the panic in the semiconductor market, there will be more polysilicon available. Undercapacity fabrication plants (fabs) are very expensive to run.  It’s a crying shame folk in places not on our latitude but which see the photonics more can’t have more of these panels on their roofs – futile green gestures are not nearly enough to make a difference.

Nice weather happens in London, shock

IT MUST BE an Indian summer, because suddenly the skies cleared and we had the finest day of the whole year today – yeah, I know it’s the 19th of September.

I was away for most of August, and the old solar panel display shows that the eighth month of the year was sheer misery. It rained so much that a connection failed and that’s why the last few days of the month are missing. The nice chaps sorted it out in a jiffy.

Apparently, according to the nice installers, our UK government has put the kybosh on grants installing 15 solar panels and if you get a grant for one or two, you’ll be lucky. We’d suggest they open up the old DEC fab near Edinburgh, but suspect that wouldn’t go down a storm with the Broons of this world.

Luckily, the solar panel installer tells us that despite the parsimonious nature of the Broon towards householders, there are still grants for organisations. So after he’d fixed our faulty connection, Richard W went off to install about 30 Sanyo panels in Hornsey, or somewhere. Despite the atrocious British weather, we can report that our 3.1KW system means we still haven’t paid one electricity bill since it was installed, and our supplier owes us money.

So ask your member of parliament why the subsidy on solar panels in the UK is so poor. And also ask why it can’t crank up silicon volume.

April 2008 was OK on the solar panel front

APRIL 2007  was unusual for the UK. The whole month was dead hot, and then the rains set in.  The swifts looked unhappy, two months of rain after the first of May doesn’t give them much chance to feed their little chicks.

But this April is far more like a regular English April. We append below a pic of how the  Sanyo solar panels have done so far this month. Of course, fuel prices have gone up since we took advantage of the Department of Trade and Industry’s “generous” 50 per cent grant.



The March solar winds will blow, but April brings snow

A WHOLE YEAR of solar panels on the top of what used to be INQ Central, and these charts below give you an idea of the output of the 15 Sanyo solar panels on our roof.

The money we got back is slightly less than the £309 on this page below, but on the other hand we’re in credit with the electricity supplier and haven’t paid an electricity bill during all this time.

The amortisation rate is still, as we’ve said in the INQ before, about eight years. In early April we did have snow and I’m not climbing on the roof to sweep it off, so for practically a whole day the blanket of crystals delivered not particularly brilliant solar results, except back to the clear blue sky.

On the other bright side, the pigeons couldn’t poo on our arrayed panels and went skiing instead.


Solar panels light up ancient civilisations

TOOK A TRIP TODAY to Talakaddu, in Karnataka, a place where apparently 35 temples and a palace are under the sands of the Kauveri river.

The archaeological department is working as hard as it can to rescue the remains from this ancient site, but there’s so much to do and little money to spend on it.

Nevertheless, the reconstruction of a Vishnu temple is well under way, and to illumine the inside of the part the department has restored, it’s using solar panels to power the lights.

Meanwhile, on another part of the site, here’s a shot of the side of a temple illustrating a pair of rings carved from the same stone.

Right now we’re gazing at the Chamundi Hills, just outside Mysore, and using modern tech to get an ancient message across. ♥

February was busting out all over

THE SOLAR panels on the roof didn’t disappoint in February.  They belted out a heap of electricity – or bijli as we prefer – despite this month being as dour as an Aberdonian when he’s forced to shell out a shilling for the toilet.

Aye, it’s true there were some days where Mr Sun hardly had a chance to see the wood for the trees, but the golden thing in the sun continues to shine and if it does, the panels pick up on it, no problem at all.

We wonder, however, whether there would be any chance of amortisation without government grants to speed the Kyoceras and Sanyos of this world on their way.

Although we’re not against pigeons, like London mayor Ken Livingstone, we also wonder how to clean the doodoo off array number one of 15 without climbing on the roof and risking life and limb or using catapults loaded with lumps of bread so they roost somewhere else.

The preferred method is little spikes so the rock pigeons feel unsafe when they alight.  ♥


Applied wins $2 billion from solar panel market

MIKE SPLINTER, who used to work for Chipzilla until he was nabbed by Applied Materials, has obviously got an attack of  solar euphoria.

The Wall Street Journal reports Applied has won a $1.9 billion deal to sell kit to firms producing photo-voltaic solar panels, although the company that  placed the order isn’t named.

We think the Journal’s Don Clark, who has recently taken to writing about motherboards, knows which firm it is.

It’s a privately held non-American firm. PV solar panels are great, just as long as governments give you a grant if you’re a householder to help you work out an amortisation rate that’s realistic.
The cher price of Applied shot up on the news, according to the Journal, here. You’ll need a sub to read it.