Well written article Travis. Of course when you talk to installers that are agnostic (use anyone's panels), they will tell you efficiency doesn't matter and vice-versa. Good that you were able to use real world numbers yourself and come to the realization that , yes, efficiency does matter (in circumstances).
Next, I would recommend doing some research on quality, and whether that matters.
Quality meaning lifetime of panels and the level of degradation over time.
I'm sure the ratings agencies would be interested in hearing your conclusion, since securitization stands to become a big part of solar financing going forward.
Well written? Poor analysis IMO. The cost per watt may be the same, but you get much less electricity with the less efficient modules in the same amount of space! Plus there was no discussion about long term viability of the systems, which SPWR points out in their recent presentation makes a lot of difference.
Of course the people who thought that efficiency doesn't matter that much work for companies that have cheap low quality panels. Bottom line... quality matters more than ANYTHING. The higher the quality ...the the lower the cost over the long haul. Its just that if you can't afford the upfront cost, you have to go with an inferior product...but that is exactly what is changing with the financing situation ...making it possible for more customers to go with superior quality.
Every parameter plays a role. For the home installer you have a very limited area on your roof, and having the most efficient panels, especially such a large difference as 24% vs 15% efficiency means 60% more power being generated. Considering that the panels come to about the same $/watt, SPWR has a huge advantage. Since SPWR's panels were used on a solar plane, the applications are clearly limitless, and the lightweight solar companies such as ASTI, can't really claim an advantage, because with a lower efficiency you will need more area and therefore more structural weight, to get the same power output. The weight advantage quickly diminishes when you have lower efficiency. And also it will be hard for other competitors to catch up, or gain any sort of competitive advantage. FSLR might have the cheapest $/watt, but since they are in the 15% efficiency column, they are pretty much blocked out of home installations.
Right Matt. So Travis's article touched upon roof top installation and whether efficiency matters. The roof top industry will continue to grow at a rapid clip, financing will improve and soft costs will continue to fall, making going solar that much more financially profitable for a household.
What's left out of Travis's article is the C7, or ground mounted, large scale solar farm, where SPWR currently touts the lowest levelized cost of energy. The business opportunities in this space are immense where competition is also working on putting out the best product. Though still a wild card, Apple and Buffett seems to agree that SPWR has the best mouse trap today.
Keep in mind that Apple and Berkshire Hathaway (both trusted C7 customers) are the #1 and #3 largest companies in the world by market capitalization. It's no surprise that Exxon Mobil is #2 on that list, also an energy company, but one that will need to expand into the alternative space to maintain its ranking.