Chinese Solar Cells: Bargain Commodity, or Worthless Junk?
I was wondering when this would happen. Reports are beginning to surface about Chinese-made solar cells, made with cheap sub-standard materials and much cutting of corners in the manufacturing process (hence the low prices), failing in the field after only 2 years of service. The efficiencies are declining faster than anticipated, some are failing entirely.
I know that TMF and others stamp their feet and pump their fist when the subject of solar energy comes up: a truly green source of energy that emits zero carbon, and the future. Whoopee!!! Hey, let's just calculate $$$/installed-watt, and totally ignore the durability issue. When was the last time a TMF article about solar cells proudly cited durability studies of Chinese-made solar cells, and comparing that durability to those manufactured in N America or Europe? Now that we have preliminary failure data, any of you solar energy cheerleaders care to cite a study that calculates the actual lifespan of the typical Chinese solar cell, and that 25 years is a reasonable estimate for survivability in the field?
OK, the concern was: what if the solar panels fail, need warranty service, but the Chinese manufacturer is in bankruptcy? I have an even better question: you have built a huge, utility scale solar power plant with Chinese-made solar cells. They begin to fail rather rapidly and much sooner than anticipated. A bunch of guys speaking Cantonese shows up to replace the failing units and make good on the guarantee. What, are you gonna replace the bad units with more of the same, that will fail just as fast?
Any homeowner who has replaced a roof (that was supposed to last multiple decades) after only one decade can tell you about how fast full sunlight can destroy any material you put on the roof.