Fixing Solar Power’s Economics, the “Easy” Way

Here is one way to improve the crummy economics of solar power: Steal some solar panels:

Thieves made off with approximately $30,000 worth of solar panels from the Sonoma Valley County Sanitation District on Eighth Street East Wednesday night under cover of darkness and as of Monday morning, there are no new leads.

Brad Sherwood, spokesperson for the Sonoma County Water Agency which oversees the sewage treatment plant, said thieves forced the main gate open by twisting it and unscrewing bolts to gain entry to the area. Once inside they removed 27 panels – 16 from the first row and 11 from the second row – and somehow got them loaded and out of there while remaining undetected.

[Sonoma News via Clean Break]


  1. I know this was tongue in cheek, but here’s something related:
    The cost of solar cells will start to significantly decrease soon. People are figuring out how to slice silicon 10x better (with 50-80% less waste), and that will be a huge cost reduction.
    “Approximately 45% of the cost of a silicon cell solar module is driven by the cost of the silicon wafer, a further 35% is driven by the materials required to assemble the solar module.”
    This paper has some details – but it’s small companies who are now inventing the new processes for better slicing.

  2. Rich Hilt says:

    At $1.50-2.00/Watt for the panels (I’m being real generous here) that means that the thieves still need to come up with $60,000-$80,000 in installation costs to put them back up on the roof.
    Even if the panel guys can pull off magic with all their investment dollars and drive the price of panels to $0.00, the cost to install needs to fall. When the dollars go to guys with a serious idea for driving the install costs down then I’ll take all the hype from investors seriously.