Why is solar PV marketed on efficiency, not yield?
Posted by Ian Smith on 14 June 2012 at 11:06 am
I was struck going round Ecobuild in March, not just by the sheer number of exhibitors of PV panels, but by their marketing. The vast majority were prominently promoting the efficiency of their cells or panels but very few were promoting energy yield at all - and none that I could see for the more diffuse light conditions we see in the UK.
One example even linked high yield to high efficiency but maybe their 'yield' was per square meter not per kilowatt (kW). Certainly the stand representative could not provide the data to back this up when asked. If anything, the data generally point to some lower efficiency thin film technologies having higher yields under the sort of light levels we get in UK.
From a purchaser's perspective, two of the key parameters for the economics are low system cost per kW and high yield per kW. Panel efficiency is a second order consideration as this primarily affects how many kWs one can get on to a particular roof surface. This is often no more important for this purpose, given the relatively modest differences between offerings in the market for mono- & poly- silicon panels, than having a good choice of panel sizes and dimensions to get the best unshaded space fill factor (or a more aesthetically pleasing layout).So, why is this industry marketing efficiency when it is yield that brings in the money? Not one salesman I spoke to could answer that question and one even commented that it was a very good question.
About the author: Ian Smith is a freelance consultant who advises local government, charities and low carbon community groups on renewable energy matters.
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