As the Solar Panel Price Turns

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Niftier than flat solar panels, but bumping up against the economic reality that cost drives choice more often than not. (Credit: Solyndra)

The most concise explanation yet of Solyndra's struggle to stay afloat comes this week from Susan Kraemer of

She tells us, as PV Tech reports, that Solyndra has completed a 1.2 MW solar installation on a large warehouse roof near Toulouse, France. The system, which consists of more than 7,080 Solyndra CIGS panels, is the largest Solyndra system in France and one of the largest worldwide.

A French partner, Nazca, installed the roof array for a warehouse owned by Port de Barcelona, one of the main commercial transport and distribution arteries in the Mediterranean area.

Kraemer explains that Solyndra's competitive advantage is two-fold: a unique cylindrical solar panel that can convert reflected light from all angles when installed on flat white building roofs; and it's easy (i.e. cheap) to install.

Solyndra's problem is that the panels are made of thin film; copper-indium-gallium-deselinide. This kind of solar panel material used to be cheaper than silicon. Not now it isn't.

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About Rachael Myrow

Rachael Myrow hosts the California Report for KQED. Over 17 years in public radio, she's worked for Marketplace and KPCC, filed for NPR and The World, and developed a sizable tea collection that's become the envy of the KQED newsroom. She specializes in politics, economics and history in California - but for emotional balance, she also covers food and its relationship to health and happiness.

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