why no photovoltaic production in Australia?

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Re: why no photovoltaic production in Australia?

Postby zzsstt » Sat Dec 26, 2009 5:55 pm

Nettlee wrote:
This is because nobody believes there is really a problem, at least not a problem big enough to warrant impacting profits

I think that there is a large body of thought that there is a problem, but a fundamental belief that Technology will suddenly ride to the rescue so that we're not in any way indisposed.


I think there's a large body of "noise" that makes it sound like people believe there is a problem, but I'm not sure it's a real belief rather than yet more marketing ("now 90% fat free"). Certainly from a corporate view, I have seen no evidence of any action that is not directly linked to the bottom line, either a direct increase in profit, reduction of costs or providing marketing leverage. To some extent I agree that there is a belief that technology will solve the problem, but I think much more basic is the belief that "somebody else" will solve the problem, and also that "somebody else" has caused it. I have recounted on another forum a car journey along the country roads out to Nowra, where I followed a vehicle proudly displaying a "50:50 by 2020" sticker, alongside several other "eco" mottos. The occupant clearly believed (or at least made the right noises) about "the problem", but accelerated out of every bend and braked in to the next. For the half an hour or so that I was behind them they made no gains, and yet burned far more fuel, and put far more wear on their vehicle than either myself or the car in front of them, who happily drove along at a constant speed without any braking or significant acceleration. Could they be stupid enough not to realise that they were wasting fuel, tyres and brake pads? Or was it just that they figured their "little bit" of excess consumption didn't matter? Or is it simply very easy to buy bumper stickers and a couple of CFL's and think they're "green"?

I am sure there are people who are genuinely trying to help, and I am sure that some of them actually are helping! Sadly "helping" is open to interpretation, when many measures are pointless, misguided or counterproductive. There are also a large number of very questionable claims - I read with interest about a lady who was watering her entire garden with greywater, the garden in question was a lush oasis and very attractive. Unfortunately I suspect that she would have had to stand in the shower for about 4 hours a day to generate enough "grey water" to keep it in that state! I then noticed that the greywater system was linked to the reticulated supply "for those times when there wasn't enough greywater".....

Nettlee wrote:As you mention, developed countries have become incapable of willingly pursuing policies that lead to discomfort. The CPRS is kind of evidence of that. The belief that it created incentive to invest in low-carbon technologies made people think that it would solve the problem without causing any change of lifestyle but it was voted down because there was a sudden realisation that it might result in discomfort. The reality is that a price on carbon is a sleight of hand to get people to reduce their consumption of carbon without forcing them to, thus encouraging businesses to pursue profits in low-carbon industries.

My frustration is with the cynism of Business, more particularly Energy Business. Whatever incentive/disincentive is created, they're always looking to make even bigger profits, rather than do the 'right' thing. What happened to the motivations behind the social license to operate?

Good old rationing might be a lot more understandable and effective, not to mention making Business really have to work at making their profits, and individuals like me really have to find a way to install solar rather than shrug my shoulders when they tell me that I have trees in the wrong places.


Personally I doubt that the CPRS was ever designed to achieve anything but increased profits. The whole concept of carbon trading is profit driven.

Unfortunately it seems there is no way to escape the perceived requirement for almost exponential growth of large businesses. Not only must they make more than the previous year, but the increase in profit must be higher! A large chunk of the "losses" of many large businesses in the so call GFC was actually traceable to writing off bad debts, bad investments etc., that were basically paper (accounting) ways of increasing apparent profits in earlier years. I read one article at the height of the "crisis" that gave numbers for one large US company, and when read in detail they had actually increased their trading profit, but made a "loss" because they wrote off so many accounting hangovers and bad investments from previous years. Many articles discussed "losses" which were in reality simply reductions in profit over those expected - the actual profits were still huge! The best example, I thought, were those where the "loss" related to a reduction in the rate of growth - they still made more than the previous year, but the growth was only 2% when it had been 5% the year before.... that, apparently, is now a "loss". the entire culture revolves around constant massive growth, almost at any cost.

It therefore comes as no surprise when those same large companies attempt to leverage the fears that have been implanted about "climate change" to increase their profits still further.
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Re: why no photovoltaic production in Australia?

Postby stagg solar » Mon Feb 15, 2010 1:50 pm

From what I have seen selling these, 90% of people will look at a price of something before making a decision on which to buy, and will seldom buy on quality over price. There has been 4 PV systems sold in 2 months because of how much more SunPower is than other companies. It is the cheaper option to import chinese panels. What most people are also oblivious about is that NOT ALL PANELS COME FROM THE FACTORY THAT IS BADGED ON THE PANELS. People are sent over to china to bid on containers of panels and whatever is the cheapest they will go for. The same thing happened with the Automotive industry, it was cheaper to import cars from overseas than to buy local products. PEOPLE ARE IGNORANT WHEN IT COMES TO BUYING. Education is only ever the answer, which is most of the time only done properley with training, rather than 'demeaning' the consumer. I believe that there should be an australian solar panel manufacturer, and I would support it all the way. I believe that increasing import costs from china will stimulate buying from america and europe, which obviously is more pricey, but over the long-term period, there is slower-moving economics (e.g. $5000 every ten years for chinese panels, but $10000 every 20 years for euro panels). I believe that giving euro and american PV manufacturers a fair share of the australian PV market will benefit; and also i believe in the long term stimulate PV production in Australia because They would then be cheaper to buy then American or euro.
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Re: why no photovoltaic production in Australia?

Postby zzsstt » Mon Feb 15, 2010 5:17 pm

stagg solar wrote: I believe that increasing import costs from china will stimulate buying from america and europe, which obviously is more pricey, but over the long-term period, there is slower-moving economics (e.g. $5000 every ten years for chinese panels, but $10000 every 20 years for euro panels).


I agree with what you are saying, but given the nature of our economy how would we accomplish it? China is a massive export market for Australia, but is not restricted to buying from us. On the other hand, Australia has limited markets that will take our produce, due to a combination of transport costs (we are a long way from anywhere) and the embedded protectionist policies of the European and Amercian markets. If we attempt to impose high import tariffs on China alone, they would respond in kind, thus damaging our export sales to them. Equally it is very difficult to justify an import tariff on one country (China) without imposing the same tariff on all others, which of course makes the European or Amercian products even more expensive.

To make matters worse, Australia has either lost or never developed much of an interest in manufacturing, hence most of our exports are raw materials. These are often high bulk low value commodities, which are value added by other countries and then returned to us for use. Any import tariffs therefore punish Australians even more, as not only do our export profits go down but the cost of buying (largely imported) goods will go up!

I find it hard to see a way out unless we start to seriously develop our own production facilities, across the board, not just for PV systems. Unfortunately this is hard to do because, as you said, people will buy on price and the imported products will be cheaper. Restricting imports (with the consequences outlined above) is only possible AFTER we have developed our own production facilities, resulting in a Catch-22 whereby the facilities have to be developed and the product initially sold at a loss (in order simply to sell anything) until sufficient local production exists to supply the market when import restrictions are imposed. Given that this process would be apparent to everyone, thus giving them ample time to respond or protest, and given that it would have to be across the board (to prevent punitive measures on products not related to PV systems), it becomes a mammoth task and a very great risk - if there is a political bug-out when it actually comes time to impose any import restrictions all the money spent up until then would have been wasted!

It is unfortunate, but our high wages and low productivity in comparison with China have driven (and are continuing to drive) production offshore, leaving us as a country that exports raw material and relies on imports of finished products. Such a system is inherently unsustainable (when our resources run out what do we do?), but equally very difficult to change.
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Re: why no photovoltaic production in Australia?

Postby stagg solar » Tue Feb 16, 2010 1:15 pm

thankyou, i guess i'll do my part and do my best at selling SunPower panels :)
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Re: why no photovoltaic production in Australia?

Postby zzsstt » Tue Feb 16, 2010 2:21 pm

stagg solar wrote:thankyou, i guess i'll do my part and do my best at selling SunPower panels :)



Sunpower's head office is in San Jose, but the panels are made in Malaysia and The Phillipines. Sunpower have no US based production facilities at present....... It would be hard to call them "American" panels, and whilst the R&D was done in the USA, they are still made in a factory in Asia! If they get shipped here from the US, they have made a very long journey...
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Re: why no photovoltaic production in Australia?

Postby geoffrey » Sat Jul 24, 2010 11:18 am

The following cn be seen on http://www.silexsolar.com/silexsolar_news_media.html


SilexSolar Pty Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Silex Systems Ltd, has announced a significant expansion in PV Panel production capacity at its Sydney Olympic Park (SOP) manufacturing facility, in response to strong demand for its high quality, high efficiency Australian-made panels from the domestic rooftop solar panel market.

The increase in panel production capacity will be implemented in two stages, the first of which is planned for the fourth quarter of 2010 with the scheduled installation of state-of-the-art automated assembly equipment which will take the capacity from ~13MW p.a. currently to ~20MW p.a. by early 2011 (calendar). Depending on continuing demand, the second stage of equipment upgrades will occur in the middle of 2011 (calendar) to further increase the annual panel production capacity to approximately 35MW. The total capital expenditure for the two-stage upgrade will be in the order of A$2 million.

“This is good news for SilexSolar” Dr Michael Goldsworthy, Silex CEO said today. “With the Australian residential rooftop panel market growing strongly from 80MW in 2009 to a forecast 130MW in 2010, we have seen very strong demand for our Australian-made PV panels across the country. With margins in the global PV market tight, it is important that we increase our production capacity and improve solar cell efficiency in order to remain competitive” he added.
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Re: why no photovoltaic production in Australia?

Postby geoffrey » Tue Dec 14, 2010 11:30 am

SilexSolar Pty Ltd bought out BP solar and are manufacturing excellent solar cells which are available here in Aus
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Re: why no photovoltaic production in Australia?

Postby munter » Tue Dec 14, 2010 12:39 pm

Silex's expansion is indeed good news. I wish them all the best. I was interested in using their panels but after four unsuccessful phone calls to try to get a hold of an installer who used them I gave up. I'm sure they are out there somewhere but they didn't come up on my initial searches.

Coincidentaly - I met a former BP solar worker a month ago in the course of his new career as a taxi driver. It was the most informed discussion on solar panels that I have ever had with a stranger! Perhaps the expansion of their production will create an opportunity for him to move back to PV manufacturing.
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Re: why no photovoltaic production in Australia?

Postby Russell Moore » Wed Dec 15, 2010 9:36 am

Isn't Silex producing panels in Australia?
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Re: why no photovoltaic production in Australia?

Postby Inspector » Wed Dec 15, 2010 8:38 pm

Russell, Silex is up and running in Homebush, from what I read earlier this year. I've been invited on a factory tour but I'm too busy to be able to go.
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