Mario Pagliaro's Newsletter, 26 July 2012:

From Sicily to Quebéc, Cost Competitive PV Now Delivers 

Immense and sun-drenched Quebéc is ready for entering the solar era.

- To the memory of Alphonse Desjardins

Solar: An industry in its infancy

Asked by the leading publication in the solar industry in late 2011 why, if PV was already cost-competitive, there was an oversupply of modules, a leading industry practitioner had this to say:

- Who knows?

Let us try to expand on this question and try to imagine what you would do if you were, say, a Quebéc resident wishing to integrate solar modules on your home`s roof – especially upon reading on the final pages of the above mentioned magazine that the price of quality solar modules is now 1.0 $/W; while a large surplus exists, with global demand sitting at 24 GW per year and production now exceeding 40 GW.

Well, nothing.

There are no shops exhibiting solar modules. Nor there are educated sales persons capable to explain how the technology works.

What happens to the electricity now produced by my roof? How will my bill change?

How many years (or months?) will the solar modules last? What happens with snow? And when it rains, will my «solar» house be more exposed to the danger of lightning?

- Who knows?

Let us then search an answer to these (and other) questions over the Internet. General lack of information, or plenty of technical jargon; solar thermal technology mistaken for PV; very few companies specializing in PV; no solar shops where PV modules can be seen and touched.

On the other hand, if you wish to buy another silicon-based electronic technology – one of those expensive smartphones – then plenty of advertising would refer you to the closest store.

The costly smartphone will last 2-3 years and will cost you on average 300 $ per year. Your home's solar panels, instead, will last 30 years and will benefit your family with 800 $ per year.

These two facts -- the lack of a decent commercial infrastructure and of updated knowledge on solar energy -- explains why today`s low cost PV is not massively spreading in wealthy regions like most States and Provinces in North America where (with the Ontario exception) no feed-in-tariffs exist; but where it is already possible -- and convenient -- to connect the roof`s solar plant to the grid, and benefit from net-metering.

Why wonder, then, if there is such a large oversupply?

Entering the Helionimics Era

Quebec Solaire. Le seminaire avec Mario Pagliaro, le 30 juillet 2012 Too bad, because Quebéc insolation levels are higher than those of Germany, just 27% lower than those of Sicily (Québec Ville, the Province capital, has a production potential of 1,134 vs. 1,438 kWh/kW of Palermo), the Mediterranean island that last June was hit for several days by a heat wave from North Africa.

Now the 5 million solar modules hosted in the island smoothly covered the excess peak demand of massive air conditioning and no blackout was recorded. On June 2007, no solar modules were installed in Sicily and during the usual, prolonged heat wave the grid failed, and the blackout lasted up to 24 hours hitting some 400,000 persons.

The same phenomenon occurred, on a much larger, scale in Germany last February, when the Government's decision to shut down 8 of the 16 nuclear power plants did not cause any blackout as the country`s 28 GW installed PV power delivered plenty of clean, peak electricity that even resulted in an increase (from 4 to 5 GWh) in the amount of energy exported to France.

Quebéc educated managers and entrepreneurs will shortly learn that the large, flat roofs of their commercial and industrial buildings can be rapidly and conveniently integrated with nice, safe solar modules instead than continuining to bake during summer and freeze during winter time.

This will considerably reduce pressure on the country's exceptional high-voltage grid carrying hydroelectric power, allowing to increase export of clean energy to confining States and Provinces, and thus decreasing their reliance on fossil fuels.

Similarly, the residentail owners of the typical Quebéc homes, will start demand how to integrate their typical canvas roofs. After all, if the Pope did the same turning the roof of Vatican's "Paul VI" hall into the world's most beatiful PV plant, why should Quebéc's Mayors continue to restrict solar integration?

Quebéc, like North America, is now ready for entering the solar economy era. 

Learn more

Le Seminaire L’énergie solaire au Québec, une énergie maintenant rentable? le 30 juillet 2012 au Centre d’Optique Photonique et Laser de l'Université Laval.

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