Currently solar industry participants (particularly those involved in PV) are lined up behind two different viewpoints:
- This is the greatest time in the World for Solar potential development
- This is the worst time for manufacturers of PV technology as failure is the natural outcome
It is time to all line up together behind a common cause – battling entrenched and well-funded (including subsidies) conventional energy and unseating it to become the primary source of electricity globally and make money doing it. Here are a few resolutions:
- As PV (and other solar technology) manufacturing pioneers continue dropping by the wayside time to STOP saying that this consolidation is healthy and start figuring out how to jump start a healthy recovery
- In a healthy industry everyone along the value chain needs to maximize utility – this means all players need to make money, save money and be able to justify the sale or purchase. The time is long past when manufacturers of PV technology can justify losing money on such a massive basis.
- On the subject of money, the money losses of PV manufacturers are catastrophic and here is the primary reason why this is so – the loss of innovation (meaning low investment in R&D) will slow progress in this industry for the near-term, perhaps even the mid-term, but because of the innovative soul of the solar industry likely not the long-term.
- Moore’s law (about the doubling of transistors on integrated circuits over a period of time) is not a good match for decreasing costs of PV manufacturing. PV is an industry filled with researchers, scientists, engineers – innovators all – can’t we come up with our own law?
- Whether upstream or downstream, and no matter the location, we are all in this fight together. Time to join up on a global solar strategy.
- Cynicism should be out, let pragmatic optimism reign.
- No more killing off technologies (crystalline in the past, thin films now); there is an application for all solar technologies.
- Stop looking for the emerging market that will solve the solar industry’s problems either with or without subsidies. Markets are opening up now because the low price of modules has enabled lower system costs and these same prices are killing off PV (and CPV and CSP) manufacturing. These same markets will turn bad for system integrators, solar developers and EPC when the PPA and tender bidding becomes too low to support a quality or, profitable installation.
- Take a look at all the PV manufacturing top ten lists and, as all the manufacturers had negative net incomes in 2012, ask yourself who on earth would want to be on these lists.
- No more winners and losers, every time a solar participant fails something vital is lost.
- PV is the best distributed generation technology – take it back to the community and find ways to make this work. The closer solar gets to the community the more involvement is created and the greater the chance of a grass roots movement building momentum.
- Financing (zero or low interest) remains the biggest roadblock to residential DG PV growth and the solar lease is not a panacea to this – let’s find a way for potential solar system customers (whether or not they rent their home) to afford PV system ownership – this means engaging landlords and other stakeholders.
- There are no winners in trade wars and no country is a 100% good actor in terms of winning unfair industry battles.
- It is currently in vogue to admit that conventional industry has unfair subsidies while also throwing up our collective and figurative hands and stating that there is nothing we can do about it – sure there is, and there is safety in numbers. Let’s get together as a whole and fight.
Extract from Renewable Energy News by Paula Mints