Electrek Green Energy Brief: A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.

First Solar Is Using Robots to Better Tap the SunThere are just a few dozen workers scattered about; before the renovation, there were hundreds. The company acknowledges that it cut jobs, but it says the ones that remain are safer and pay better. The panels produce 244 percent more power at a manufacturing cost of as little as 20¢ per watt, about 30 percent less than the cheapest Chinese equivalent. Header image is from this factory – and it represents the fundamental aspect of the solar panel manufacturing boom of recent years – robotics, not massive amounts of labor. First Solar will not bear the consequences of tariffs and is making the cheapest solar panels in the world. Probably not a bad place to be…

Next-gen solar power wonder material signs first commercial distribution contractWe expect the initial efficiency to be around 10% and the initial price to be around 50 EUR (58 USD) per sqm. This would mean the LCOE (Levelized Cost of Electricity) of approximately 0.05 EUR (0.05 USD) per kWh. We predict to increase our module’s efficiency to 13-15% in due course. This quote above is via an email from Saule, the manufacturer referenced above. For comparison, since solar panels are about 2 sq. meters, that’d mean about $100/panel – which will roughly be 160-180W. So $0.55/W – more expensive than regular panels right now, but impressive for the first run, with significant head room coming. I bet the prices fall 50% – or more – in a couple of years. The projected cost of energy from the panels is lower than expected – that must be related to the building integrated nature of the product.

SunPower puts U.S. expansion on hold over Trump tariffSunPower Corp (SPWR.O) on Thursday said it was putting a $20 million U.S. factory expansion and hundreds of new jobs on hold until and unless its solar panels receive an exclusion from federal tariffs the Trump administration imposed this week. Here’s a hardcore play by SunPower – and wow is it a bold move. I support SunPower’s petition to one degree – they are not part of a cartel dumping product, however, they clearly did leave the USA to build cheaper factories and save money.

Chinese wind turbine firm found guilty of stealing U.S. secrets – When states – not just corporations – sanction economic warfare and corporate espionage, it’s understandable that we penalize them. The US has done it as well of course.

Re: The tweet above, I’ve seen prices decreasing much more than increasing as I’ve started watching this group during the last six months. The price drops have mostly been for monosilicon as it scales, but we’re seeing general price decreases for the whole industry as well. I don’t suspect the US tariff will have much of an effect, however, an Indian tariff might.

Interesting note below – will there be the financial motivation from this tariff to build structures in the USA? Tariff ends in four years, falls 5% – 30/35/20/15% – each year. Your factory comes online in year four – get’s 15% tax bonus. Do you spend the money?

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