From Robert Van Buskirk:

Hey Pete:

Thought you might like to see these prices.

300 3W plastic solar panels (without frame and connectors) can basically fit in one 25 kg suitcase. So the panels for solar lighting systems can be had for about $4 each. Any student doing a project can basically fly through China, pick them up and arrive with panels for lighting systems for 300 households for less than the price of the plane ticket.

They do have to be ordered and paid for about 1 month ahead of time so the factory can schedule the production run.

The other thing to note, is that a pallette of 50W panels can arrive at port of entry in Africa at $0.83 to $0.78/watt, for fairly small quantities.

Hopefully, this will keep dropping 10% to 20% per year.

Asking around, it seems possible to get a container of larger panels to a port of entry in Africa for less than $0.40/watt. As low as $0.35/watt MIGHT be possible, but $0.30/watt is probanly currently out of reach. But the total cost of such a container would probably have to be >$100,000 to get such a volume discount.

What I am thinking I would like us to do for the grant, is demonstrate that with the cooperation of a national government, it is possible to get panels to Africa for less than $0.40/watt, and therefore it is possible to get electricity to villagers for less than $0.10/kWh when the equipment is amortized over 5 years or more.

We should be able to do such a demonstration/research project for less than $300,000 I would hope.

Of course there is a bunch of policy and academic and impact narrative that goes along with such a project that I am skipping over here.

Hope you enjoy the update.

-Robert VB