• 2 days PDVSA Booted From Caribbean Terminal Over Unpaid Bills
  • 2 days Russia Warns Ukraine Against Recovering Oil Off The Coast Of Crimea
  • 2 days Syrian Rebels Relinquish Control Of Major Gas Field
  • 2 days Schlumberger Warns Of Moderating Investment In North America
  • 2 days Oil Prices Set For Weekly Loss As Profit Taking Trumps Mideast Tensions
  • 2 days Energy Regulators Look To Guard Grid From Cyberattacks
  • 2 days Mexico Says OPEC Has Not Approached It For Deal Extension
  • 2 days New Video Game Targets Oil Infrastructure
  • 2 days Shell Restarts Bonny Light Exports
  • 2 days Russia’s Rosneft To Take Majority In Kurdish Oil Pipeline
  • 3 days Iraq Struggles To Replace Damaged Kirkuk Equipment As Output Falls
  • 3 days British Utility Companies Brace For Major Reforms
  • 3 days Montenegro A ‘Sweet Spot’ Of Untapped Oil, Gas In The Adriatic
  • 3 days Rosneft CEO: Rising U.S. Shale A Downside Risk To Oil Prices
  • 3 days Brazil Could Invite More Bids For Unsold Pre-Salt Oil Blocks
  • 3 days OPEC/Non-OPEC Seek Consensus On Deal Before Nov Summit
  • 3 days London Stock Exchange Boss Defends Push To Win Aramco IPO
  • 3 days Rosneft Signs $400M Deal With Kurdistan
  • 3 days Kinder Morgan Warns About Trans Mountain Delays
  • 4 days India, China, U.S., Complain Of Venezuelan Crude Oil Quality Issues
  • 4 days Kurdish Kirkuk-Ceyhan Crude Oil Flows Plunge To 225,000 Bpd
  • 4 days Russia, Saudis Team Up To Boost Fracking Tech
  • 4 days Conflicting News Spurs Doubt On Aramco IPO
  • 4 days Exxon Starts Production At New Refinery In Texas
  • 4 days Iraq Asks BP To Redevelop Kirkuk Oil Fields
  • 5 days Oil Prices Rise After U.S. API Reports Strong Crude Inventory Draw
  • 5 days Oil Gains Spur Growth In Canada’s Oil Cities
  • 5 days China To Take 5% Of Rosneft’s Output In New Deal
  • 5 days UAE Oil Giant Seeks Partnership For Possible IPO
  • 5 days Planting Trees Could Cut Emissions As Much As Quitting Oil
  • 5 days VW Fails To Secure Critical Commodity For EVs
  • 5 days Enbridge Pipeline Expansion Finally Approved
  • 5 days Iraqi Forces Seize Control Of North Oil Co Fields In Kirkuk
  • 5 days OPEC Oil Deal Compliance Falls To 86%
  • 6 days U.S. Oil Production To Increase in November As Rig Count Falls
  • 6 days Gazprom Neft Unhappy With OPEC-Russia Production Cut Deal
  • 6 days Disputed Venezuelan Vote Could Lead To More Sanctions, Clashes
  • 6 days EU Urges U.S. Congress To Protect Iran Nuclear Deal
  • 6 days Oil Rig Explosion In Louisiana Leaves 7 Injured, 1 Still Missing
  • 6 days Aramco Says No Plans To Shelve IPO

Why Solyndra’s Death Could be Good for the Solar Industry

Why Solyndra’s Death Could be Good for the Solar Industry

I believe that the loss of industry players Solyndra, Evergreen, and SpectraWatt opens the market for more innovative solar companies to succeed with smarter tactics and mainstream products that fit into existing manufacturing models. Remember when the dot.com bubble burst in 2000 and, seemingly overnight, some companies ceased making millions hand-over-fist?  Flash forward to 2011, when nearly everyone is online, Internet technology has become more accessible and fortunes continue to be made. Real innovation always finds its pot of gold.

We’ve seen a considerable reduction in solar panel costs, but that is exactly why there is reason to be optimistic. Lower prices open markets that were previously barred economically. I believe most people fail to understand the solar sector. Unlike other established markets the solar industry is still a tiny fraction of the overall energy production worldwide. Solar’s competition is really fossil fuel, or in other words, the established way electricity is being generated. With subsidies long in place for nuclear, coal and gas in the U.S. along with the cheap cost of production for coal and natural gas, solar is essentially competing with that $0.10/kWh average cost of electricity in the United States and globally.

It is not only wise we devote our resources toward solar technology; it is essential. We are already facing serious ramifications of fossil fuel emissions. Increases in carbon dioxide concentration along with global surface temperatures are showing a decline in agricultural yields due to climate change. This along with melting glaciers and shifts in climate zones do not bode well for climate change stabilization without drastic efforts in greenhouse gas abatement. There are also the obvious human costs of other sources of energy, from water quality issues related to gas fracking and the loss of mountain tops and streams with coal mining to the shocking failure of the Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant reactors in March of 2011 that has forced one hundred thousand Japanese in a twelve mile radius to evacuate.

Yes, solar energy does need to arrive at end-user costs that are closer to fossil fuels, and concurrently, our research and development areas need to lead us beyond current solar PV technologies. The recent fall of Solyndra is a lesson in over-specialization but is not a damning of solar’s viability. The U.S. has 1,750 MW of PV planned for 2011 and currently employs 100,000 people, more than coal mining or steel manufacturing. Solyndra was producing a PV product that did not fit within traditional balance of system (BOS) solar industry structures. Their novel cylindrical solar modules which have a capacity to capture sunlight from 360º (if rooftops are painted white) and resist snow and dust, also required a shift in the industry as a whole in order to adopt them. Unfortunately, Solyndra’s timing was terrible, global poly-silicon supplies caught up with rising demand, going from a high of $500 per kilogram in 2008 to a mere $35 on spot markets today. Combined with a Chinese manufacturing boom, that lowered the overall cost of panels by 40 percent this year, Solyndra was unable to compete. On October 19th, seven solar PV manufacturers filed a federal trade dispute claiming China is dumping solar panels in the US below their own manufacturing cost, which likely in part, explains the 40 percent decrease in panels. Unfortunately, for Evergreen and Solyndra, that filing is too late.

The United States spends almost $500 billion annually purchasing energy from other countries. About $4 billion of taxpayer money is allotted to nuclear, natural gas, and nuclear company subsidies, even when many geothermal sources are reaching or have reached, capacity. We need a better paradigm. New solar technologies can change this. The U.S. has vast regions that offer some of the sunniest places on earth, and you don’t need to live in the desert to harness solar power. New Jersey is second only to California in adoption of solar infrastructure. Despite the announcement recently that Germany will be lowering their feed-in tariffs in January of 2012, they remain 40% of the total solar market globally while receiving less average daily solar radiation than New Jersey.

In the U.S., we are seeing a likelihood of long-term thin-film implementation when we develop the right technological fit. Within a few years, we expect at least a dozen markets will be economically viable without subsidies. Tariff reductions are occurring throughout Europe as the EU struggles with the Greek financial crisis. Despite this the solar market there has increased 65 percent as opposed to the 82 percent increase in 2010. While changes in policy are lowering European expectations slightly, the U.S. market is projected to increase by as much as 9 percent this year. The global solar market is expected to install 22 MW of electricity in 2011.

Of course, the largest solar demands will be coming from China and India. From a purely economic standpoint, there will be no reason for China to remain with silicon when better alternatives become available. Solar PV installations in Asia grew by over 57% from 2006-2010, and 2010 showed an incredible 100% increase from 2009 and yet China still exports nearly 95% of their total PV production. However, China recently announced a national feed-in tariff program, increasing 2012 solar market projections.

Many venture capitalists have established funds dedicated to launching green technology initiatives. First Solar, the largest thin-film manufacturer in the world, will see approximately $3.75 billion in revenue this year, and there are a number of solar companies emerging with very attractive growth opportunities precisely because there is so much room for improvement in terms of efficiencies and a reduction in materials costs. As with the dotcom crash, the death of Solyndra, Evergreen and others will usher in a more robust solar industry — not signal the disappearance of PV as a viable alternative for future energy needs. Both companies were a tiny fraction of an enormous and rapidly growing global market. The egalitarian balance is one that will afford large-scale, global installation of solar energy panels at a price people can manage.

By. Steven Pleging

Steven Pleging is CEO/President of Quantum Solar Power Corp. a U.S. based public company engaged in developing and commercializing a revolutionary new solar power technology.

Source: R Squared Energy Blog




Back to homepage


Leave a comment

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News