Author Topic: Rayton Solar Scam? - 3.1M Raised and climbing! 60% Cheaper? 25% more efficient?  (Read 25626 times)

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Offline EEVblog

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That's why it's on the 2nd channel. I did no research on it nor put any real thought into it, I just hit record and talked.
I disagree with mdszy. I think that was an excellent video Dave.  Not over the top but just the right level of technical and practical critique base on the information at hand! :-+

Thanks. I could always edit it bit more, and add some more stuff and whack it on the main channel as numbered video to get a larger audience?
 
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Offline edy

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Great video Dave.

I checked out the RaytonSolar channel on YouTube and it seems to be cobbled together with videos of Christy St. John:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/christy-st-john-97215740

Here is her web site:

http://christystjohn.com/

I believe she is just working for the marketing / media people and getting paid just like Bill Nye was paid to do commercials for RaytonSolar. She appears in a few of their solar-related videos, but there are many other videos of her on their channel which seem completely unrelated. Somebody must have screwed up the uploads or trolled the channel with her videos to try to bump up the views.



Funny enough, if you sort the videos on the channel by popularity, out of the 19 or so videos featuring Christy talking about "who knows what" (which make up the vast majority of the 27 videos on the channel)... her videos actually rank the lowest on the view count. So if there was any strategy to this clusterf*ck of a channel I'm not sure it worked.

Anyways, the whole thing just gives me a bad feeling... best to stay away from this company and let them do their thing without your money involved. Christy's involvement I can understand, she is an actress and wish her all the best in advancing her career, but I thought better of Bill Nye than being a paid shill. Interestingly enough, Christy lists having a degree in Mechanical Engineering on her LinkedIn page, and Bill Nye was also a Mechanical Engineer for Boeing. I wonder if there is some connection there or if they know each other or somebody at Rayton for that matter.

Also, Christy is a web-developer and the RaytonSolar site appears to be a Wix page so likely her company "Brand ID" is involved in maintaining their media and web presence and she also does their YouTube channel. I'm sure it is all linked. Here it is:

Her profile on Brand-ID: https://thebrandid.com/meet-the-team/christy-st-john/



I like this:

Offline, Christy works as an actress and partners with UCode, a LA-based company that teaches kids how to code. One of her personal missions in life is to encourage more young girls to go into STEM fields. :-+ :-+ :-+


« Last Edit: June 07, 2017, 02:41:16 pm by edy »
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Online rs20

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It's almost as if the conversation went like this:

Marketing: We have this MP4 promotional Billy nye film, and we want to embed it in our webpage.
Christy: No problem, I'll upload it to YouTube and you can then embed it in your website.
Marketing: Cool, thanks, done! Oh wait, it says "Christy St John" in the title bar of the embedded video.
Christy: Oh sorry, didn't think of that. I'll rename my channel.

I mean, to be fair, it worked as far as embedding the videos goes. Maybe they don't consider the experience of people clicking through to the channel to be a relevant experience.
 

Offline EEVblog

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I mean, to be fair, it worked as far as embedding the videos goes. Maybe they don't consider the experience of people clicking through to the channel to be a relevant experience.

In which case,  :-DD
You pay Bill Nye oodles of money to promote your product, you produce a slick-as investor marketing campaign, and you don't think people are going to want to look at your Youtube channel for more videos on the tech. Double  :-DD
 

Offline NiHaoMike

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I'll believe the "60% cheaper" part when I can actually buy it for less than 40c per watt. (Probably even less than that by then.)
Cryptocurrency has taught me to love math and at the same time be baffled by it.

Cryptocurrency lesson 0: Altcoins and Bitcoin are not the same thing.
 

Offline coppice

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I'll believe the "60% cheaper" part when I can actually buy it for less than 40c per watt. (Probably even less than that by then.)
40 cents per watt would be about the same as now. A 250W panel is under $100.
 
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Offline mtdoc

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I recently bought a pallet (26 panels) of 285 watt panels for 25 cents a watt.
 
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Offline NiHaoMike

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I'll believe the "60% cheaper" part when I can actually buy it for less than 40c per watt. (Probably even less than that by then.)
40 cents per watt would be about the same as now. A 250W panel is under $100.

That sounds about right for a bulk order e.g. a whole set to put on a roof. For single panels, $1/W is about typical.
So then the bulk price would have to be less than 16c per watt. Which is probably pretty hard to achieve.
Cryptocurrency has taught me to love math and at the same time be baffled by it.

Cryptocurrency lesson 0: Altcoins and Bitcoin are not the same thing.
 

Offline EEVblog

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They raised $2.3M in 2015, and what do they have to show for it?
Check out the "updates"

https://www.fundable.com/rayton-solar-inc
« Last Edit: June 08, 2017, 05:28:52 pm by EEVblog »
 

Offline NANDBlog

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They raised $2.3M in 2015, and what do they have to show for it?
Videos with Bill Nye?
 
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Offline edy

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There is a lot of "math play" which at first glance can be confusing. For example, they say 25% more efficient than existing panels. If existing panels are thought to be 20% efficiency on average, you might assume they mean 45% efficiency.

Then when you read that they say make 24% efficient modules, which are 25%+ more efficiency than other panels it sounds like they are saying other panels have -1% efficiency?!?

So what they really mean is if other panels are say 20% efficient, they are 25% MORE of 20... or 0.25 x 20 which is 5 more... so they bump up the efficiency from 20% to 25%, which is 5% "more". See, for someone just looking at a glance without knowing, it would seem like they are going from 20% to 45%, when in fact they are going from 20% to 25%.

Still, it is an improvement, and if it can be made cheaper and saves Silicon then great. But what are they spending the money on, and if they made one of their cells already then where is it, where is the data on the performance of the cell and the actual thickness, how did they do it, and how to they plan to scale it? I'd be more impressed to see an engineer go over that then Bill Nye or a bunch of marketing fluff stuff.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2017, 06:33:53 am by edy »
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Online Richard Crowley

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Still, it is an improvement, and if it can be made cheaper and saves Silicon then great. But what are they spending the money on, and if they made one of their cells already then where is it, where is the data on the performance of the cell and the actual thickness, how did they do it, and how to they plan to scale it? I'd be more impressed to see an engineer go over that then Bill Nye or a bunch of marketing fluff stuff.
What does "saves Silicon" mean? Where I work, we still use round wafers, even though the microprocessor dice are rectangular.  When the wafers are cut apart into dice, there is a small amount of Silicon "lost" from the saw kerf, and of course, the wasted space between the last good dice and the round edge of the wafer.  But those scraps are re-cycled.  The dust from the saw is likely sucked out and collected like sawdust in a woodworking shop.

OTOH, down the street at Solar World, they actually grow their own ingots from melting chunks of Silicon.  But, because round PV cells would waste so much space, they "square-off" the whole ingot much like a sawmill preparing a big log from the forest.  Then, when they slice the ingot, they end up with square wafers (vs. the natural round shape of the boule).  They reputedly take the cut-off pieces and recycle them by throwing them back into the crucible to be re-melted.

The only "saving" Raytron appear to accomplish is the saw-kerf from slicing the boule into wafers.  Are they saying they can reliably cleave off a layer of Silicon crystal in a production environment in some kind of economically feasible scheme?  Given that Silicon raw material is essentially free (only the cost of extraction, cleaning, transportation, etc.) what exactly are we "saving" here?  If they need some sort of giant accelerator to cleave layers of Silicon, is that really economically viable?  Can they really cleave a 4 or 6 or 8 inch layer of silicon without breaking it?  That stuff is crazy brittle.
 
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Offline LabSpokane

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Theoretical silicon savings are in zero kerf loss and more wafers per ingot due to less thick wafers.

Silicon's cost is in making the ingots, not the raw material value. We have ingot plant(s) in the Pacific NW specifically because ingots are energy-intensive and we have the lowest power rates on the planet.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2017, 07:39:42 am by LabSpokane »
 

Online Richard Crowley

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Theoretical silicon savings are in zero kerf loss and more wafers per ingot due to less thick wafers.

Silicon's cost is in making the ingots, not the raw material value. We have ingot plant(s) in the Pacific NW specifically because ingots are energy-intensive and we have the lowest power rates on the planet.
But what is the cost of growing crystalline boules vs. operating a big accelerator to cleave the silicon?  An accelerator big enough to do that probably costs orders of magnitude more than the Czochralski crucibles.  Especially considering the cost of the capital equipment, does it save enough power to have a positive cost/benefit ratio?  How much power for an accelerator when operated in a relatively constant cycle of commercial production?
 

Offline EEVblog

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They raised $2.3M in 2015, and what do they have to show for it?
Videos with Bill Nye?

And the lawyers to draft the disclosure docs for the new equity crowd funder
 

Offline LabSpokane

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Theoretical silicon savings are in zero kerf loss and more wafers per ingot due to less thick wafers.

Silicon's cost is in making the ingots, not the raw material value. We have ingot plant(s) in the Pacific NW specifically because ingots are energy-intensive and we have the lowest power rates on the planet.
But what is the cost of growing crystalline boules vs. operating a big accelerator to cleave the silicon?  An accelerator big enough to do that probably costs orders of magnitude more than the Czochralski crucibles.  Especially considering the cost of the capital equipment, does it save enough power to have a positive cost/benefit ratio?  How much power for an accelerator when operated in a relatively constant cycle of commercial production?

Call these guys:  http://phoenixnuclearlabs.com/admin/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/PNL-News-Release-04252017.pdf

With no scientific papers to back any of this up (that I can find), it's hard to know. "Particle accelerator" could mean damned near anything from a cathode ray tube-like setup to the supercollider at CERN.
 

Offline matthewpang

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It appears like they have a good thing going here 

Late 2014 IGG : $5,323
Late 2015 Fundable.Com : $ 2,830,000
Mid  2017 StartEngine.com:  $3,336,200.88 (and rising!)

Step 1) Make spiffy video and post on crowdfunding site
Step 2) Not necessary
Step 3) !!!Profit!!! and return to Step 1
 


Offline matthewpang

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So on their Fundable.com post they seem to have included their cost per watt as $0.227 .. hmm i wonder what I can find on alibaba

Rayton Fundable Post
« Last Edit: June 09, 2017, 09:37:42 am by matthewpang »
 

Offline EEVblog

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So on their Fundable.com post they seem to have included their cost per watt as $0.227 .. hmm i wonder what I can find on alibaba


 :-DD
 
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Offline matthewpang

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So on their Fundable.com post they seem to have included their cost per watt as $0.227 .. hmm i wonder what I can find on alibaba
:-DD

But more seriously here are the actual spot prices of silicon cells per watt as of yesterday :


Sources :
http://www.trendforce.com/price/pv
http://pvinsights.com
http://pv.energytrend.com/pricequotes.html
 

Offline matthewpang

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There is a lot of "math play" which at first glance can be confusing. For example, they say 25% more efficient than existing panels. If existing panels are thought to be 20% efficiency on average, you might assume they mean 45% efficiency.

Then when you read that they say make 24% efficient modules, which are 25%+ more efficiency than other panels it sounds like they are saying other panels have -1% efficiency?!?

So what they really mean is if other panels are say 20% efficient, they are 25% MORE of 20... or 0.25 x 20 which is 5 more... so they bump up the efficiency from 20% to 25%, which is 5% "more". See, for someone just looking at a glance without knowing, it would seem like they are going from 20% to 45%, when in fact they are going from 20% to 25%.

Still, it is an improvement, and if it can be made cheaper and saves Silicon then great. But what are they spending the money on, and if they made one of their cells already then where is it, where is the data on the performance of the cell and the actual thickness, how did they do it, and how to they plan to scale it? I'd be more impressed to see an engineer go over that then Bill Nye or a bunch of marketing fluff stuff.

There is a conventionally understood meaning to "62% Cheaper And 25% More Efficient " that doesn't warrant the criticism "math play". I seriously doubt anyone thought they had 45% efficient (in absolute terms) solar cells.

On the other hand if you were talking about sunscreen products going from factor 30 to factor 50 then most people wouldn't realise the reduction in UV penetration was just  something like 3 to 4%.

In any case there has been a consistent and incremental series of efficiency improvements and cost of manufacture saving making solar technology more affordable over decades. Why is another one so outrageous that it begets the sort of ignorant tribalism on display here?

Where is the evidence that there is a scam afoot here? So far all I see is opinions and possibly misinformed opinions. Where are the facts?

Here are some facts:
Efficiency

1) Lets give them the best chance of success and assume they are using mono-crystalline silicon cells. Per the NREL the maximum efficiency for mono-crystalline solar cells achievable under *IDEAL* lab conditions has been about 25% .

Please keep in mind that these are conditions where a bunch of researchers with pretty much unlimited time and resources made *one cell* .

2) The theoretical upper limit of a silicon solar cell is calculated to be in the neighborhood of 29.4 percent. This is given to us by pesky things like the laws of physics (see paper).

3) Rayton Solar claim that their cells are 3 microns thick and here is where they claim their cells have 24% efficiency

4) As uwezi nicely pointed out with references:
Quote
Silicon is a bad light absorber because of its indirect bandgap. In contrast to direct bandgap materials like GaAs or Cu(In,Ga)Se2 a 3µm thin silicon solar cell will only absorb about 1/3 of the incoming sun light. With this little absorption a 20+ % efficient solar cell is out of discussion.

http://www.pveducation.org/pvcdrom/design/material-thickness
http://www.pveducation.org/pvcdrom/design/solar-cell-parameters

At least thicknesses around 30 µm would be needed, which in turn are most likely not achievable with the described exfoliation technique, which otherwise is known under the name SmartCut in the semiconductor community.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0927024894900086
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smart_cut

They just copied their idea from a book (nothing wrong with that, but they should have read the whole paragraph):
https://books.google.se/books?id=TpZo_wEeJe0C&lpg=PA110&ots=_9uMHQgDAC&dq=silicon%20smartcut%20solar%20cell&hl=sv&pg=PA110#v=onepage&q=silicon%20smartcut%20solar%20cell&f=false

and one last link to a report highlighting the problem:
http://www.nanophotonicseurope.org/index.php/component/docman/doc_download/8-glunz-photonics-for-high-efficiency-crystalline-silicon-solar-cells

5)Using the maximum theoretical efficiency of the ("best case" thickness) 110micron cell given in (2) and the reduction in light absorption given in (4) and in T. Tiedje, Yablonovich, E., Cody, G. D., and Brooks, B. G., “Limiting Efficiency of Silicon Solar Cells” it is easy to mathematically show that the claims of a 24% efficient mono-crystalline 3 micron thick solar cell is effectively impossible. And *EVEN* If it was possible (which its not) - there is no way in hell they are able to commercially produce such a thing . *ESPECIALLY* considering where the upper limits of research solar cells (given in (1)) are.

Thus

6)We can see that their claims of a 24% cell efficiency seem *extremely dubious*. Performing the above calculations - the final efficiency they are able to produce is likely to be at or below the 15%-19% range *AT BEST* (but probably significantly less).

Knowing that, lets look at their other claim , "60% cost savings"

Cost

As mentioned earlier they claim a $0.227 price per watt and a 62% cost savings

Sources for the info below:
a) http://www.trendforce.com/price/pv
b) http://pvinsights.com
c) http://pv.energytrend.com/pricequotes.html

1) You can buy equivalently (from our calculations above) efficient solar cells for around $0.205-$0.230 per watt. RIGHT NOW.

2) You can buy more efficient (simply because they are thicker see calculations above) mono crystalline solar cells for around $0.250 per watt.

Thus: they are either 10% MORE expensive than equivalent efficiency cells or 10% cheaper (at best!!) than more efficient cells.

Conclusion :
1) 24% Efficiency claim - nope.
2) 62% Cost savings claim - nope.

Q.E.D

Bonus Round

I'd like to add that the discussion thus far (both on here and as presented in their marketing material) has focused on the bare cells . Solar cell encapsulation is *critical* to the ability of ANY cell to perform and survive . See this presentation encapsulation from the NREL.

The fact that the cells that Rayton shown below are not properly encapsulated at all should raise *significant* concern among investors in the company.
 
 
« Last Edit: June 09, 2017, 11:07:12 am by matthewpang »
 
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Offline EEVblog

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Wow, absolutely debunked by the laws of physics  :-+

http://www.pveducation.org/pvcdrom/design/material-thickness
 
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Offline LabSpokane

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https://www.soitec.com/en/products/smart-cut

This is the company with the "Smart Cut" process. 

A little more detail on ion implantation:

http://www.axcelis.com/sites/default/files/docs/Ion_Implantation_in_Silicon_Technology.pdf

This is a very old process, since it's basically as old as semiconductor production. If it was applicable to low-cost solar cells, it surely has been tried by now, and would be the industry standard if it was cost-effective. 

And the efficiency curve vs. cell thickness web page is pure gold.  :-+
 
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Offline LabSpokane

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Is there anything we should do, besides rant about it on a isolated forum :blah: to actually stop these thieves? :box: :horse:

Trust me when I tell you that as annoying as this and other schemes like it are, the dollar amount here barely even twitches the needle on the quack-o-meter.
 


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