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Posted by Scott Willing on January 29, 2004, 8:19 pm

As other posters have pointed out, a critically important role of
transformers is to provide isolation. Transformerless voltage
conversion in both step-up and step-down converters is already easily
done, as thousands of cheap transformerless inverters (that fry if you
try ground-bonding the neutral output terminal) already demonstrate.

I know what they meant, but they didn't think through the practical
aspects of the claim. It's fair to say that being able to provide high
voltage DC easily can mitigate inverter design issues, but not to
claim that this can eliminate transformers. It was a toss-in remark
that they should've tossed out.


Posted by Ecnerwal on January 29, 2004, 11:44 am

We've been around long enough to have seen dozens, perhaps hundreds, of
announcments of huge cost reductions in solar cells, and also to see
them never appear on the market, or at least never appear on the market
as huge cost reductions. As one for-instance, amorphous silicon was
supposed to be a huge cost redcution since it was not involving all the
crystal growing used in normal cells. Quick look at retail pricing -
yup, $.50 a watt. Huge savings .vs. crystalline: "oops, vanished".

When somone shows up with "here's this grat new cost reducing
technology, order it today and we'll ship it to your house tomorrow"
we'll pay attention, though we'll still question things like lifetime,
etc. Based on past experience, any claim without product available to
the end user to back it up at prices that meet the claim is just so much
snake oil.

Same applies to fuel cells, etc...

Cats, Coffee, Chocolate...vices to live by

Posted by Pants on January 29, 2004, 3:25 pm
I was out of the loop.  Why is amorphous so expensive?  Is it the cost of
the package, since you need a larger package per watt?

Posted by Ecnerwal on January 29, 2004, 7:58 pm

Hard to say - either profiteering, or production issues that were not
anticipated in the early hype. You could ask UniSolar, but I doubt you
would get a straight answer. I do know that the inital hype was lower
cost since it was not based on crystalline silicon, and could be pumped
out continuously on long rolls of plastic (or long sheets of glass).

It was developed, it's in production, it's pumped out on long rolls of
plastic and long sheets of glass, you can buy it, and it is NOT cheap. I
doubt it's the cost of the package, which is just glass or plastic. I
used it as an example of why anyone with a memory who has been looking
at the solar field for a number of years reacts to "Huge Breakthroughs
to Lower Costs That are Just Around the Corner" with a big fat *yawn*.

They either never happen, or they don't greatly reduce costs. If they do
happen at reduced costs, we'll buy some, but until we can buy some,
cheap, we have heard it all before. Go read the story about the boy who
cried wolf...

Cats, Coffee, Chocolate...vices to live by

Posted by William P.N. Smith on January 29, 2004, 9:30 pm

I've got one of their "field applied laminates", and it looks quite
nice.  However, it's on a roll of stainless steel, and the top coating
is some kind of rubber with a clear window over the PV section, so I
suspect they ate up their "amorphous" savings with processing and
materials compatabilities issues.

I'm not really sure it's fair to compare it to 'normal' solar panels,
it's really a different device, and has it's little market niche which
the traditional panels don't serve.

There are some functionality issues, as they work differently from
'normal' panels in areas of temperature and diffuse illumination, but
that's a rathole.

William Smith
ComputerSmiths Consulting, Inc.    www.compusmiths.com

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