This is how fast energy sources can change: from all horses but one automobile in the 1900 New York Easter Parade to all automobiles but one horse in the 1913 Easter Parade.Continue reading
Solar companies are shaking out just like car and computer companies before them. Dozens of automobile manufacturers shook out to a handful of major ones; Tesla is the first new one in decades. So many computer hardware and software companies went under or were bought by bigger ones that it would take a very long blog post to list them all; I could name a dozen or two off the top of my head. There’s a shakeout going on right now among mobile phone manufacturers: even mighty Nokia is sinking. The solar industry is going through that same normal shakeout phase. Will electric utilities be next?
Stephen Lacey wrote for greentechsolar 23 April 2013, Four Must-See Charts on the Future of the Global Solar Market: Who will be left standing when the dust settles?
In 2009, after Spain’s market collapsed and the world faced a crippling financial crisis, GTM Research predicted a shake-out in the manufacturing sector. But unexpected growth in global demand, particularly in European markets, helped keep many producers afloat.
Then, in 2010 and 2011, we saw a surge of new manufacturing capacity — much of it driven by China — that created the structural oversupply faced by the industry today. As illustrated by the growing list of deceased solar companies and acquisitions, the delayed shake-out in the industry is now well underway.
This morning at the GTM Solar Summit, Shayle Kann, vice president of research, shared his outlook on consolidation, module prices, and the shifting global demand through 2016. Here are four charts from his presentation that provide a glimpse of what the world may look like in the next three years.
In 2010, when the period of irrational growth began in solar manufacturing, there were 357 active module producers.
By the end of this year, that number will be down to 145. And in 2016, it will drop below 100. (So if you’re at a conference talking to a person involved in manufacturing, there’s a good chance he or she might be out of a job or working for a different firm the next time you see them.)
He then predicts that solar PV panel prices may actually rise briefly due to fewer manufacturers. However, as he notes, demand will keep going up. And demand combined with economies of scale may make prices continue down with Moore’s Law. I think his installed capacity graph is way too conservative, because he doesn’t go back far enough, which would reveal that 2010 growth is not an anomaly, it’s a steady continuation of the previous decade (well, except in Georgia). We shall see what happens in the next few years.
One thing’s for certain: a few bankruptcies are not a problem for the world’s fastest-growing industry. They are merely a symptom of any industry growing that fast. Solar panels will continue to spread, ever-faster, and electric utilities need to adapt or soon their big utility shakeout will start, too. The utility shakeout may look more like an increase in companies, as many solar installers and vendors move in to handle distributed solar power if the incumbents won’t do it. That’s my speculation, and again we’ll see.
While Georgia failed to reform its antique Territorial Electric Service Act and toyed with a solar monopoly, New Jersey, far to the north with far less sun, finished installing a gigawatt (1,000 megawatts) of solar power. The rest of the U.S. installed 3.3 MW total, slightly higher than projections of 3.2 MW, but Georgia lagged behind. When will the legislature and the Public Service Commission, and perhaps more importantly, Georgia Power and Southern Company, stop stop wasting our money on that three-legged nuclear regulatory-capture boondoggle at Plant Vogtle and get on with solar in Georgia for jobs, for profit, and for clean air and water?Continue reading
Moore’s law continues to drive solar costs down and installations up. According to SEIA, U.S. Market Installs 3,300 Megawatts in 2012; Driven by Record Fourth Quarter,
2012 was a historic year for the U.S. solar industry. There were 3,313 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaic (PV) capacity installed throughout the year, which represents 76% growth over 2011’s record deployment totals. The fourth quarter of 2012 was also the largest quarter on record as 1,300 MW came online, driven in part by unprecedented installation levels in the residential and utility markets. SEIA and GTM Research forecast that the market will continue to grow at a steady clip with over 4,200 MW of PV and 940 MW of concentrating solar power (CSP) expected to come online in 2013. (All data from SEIA/GTM Research “U.S. Solar Market Insight 2012 Year-In-Review” unless otherwise noted.)
And those new installations are driven by solar PV prices continually falling in Moore’s Law for solar:Continue reading
A press release Tuesday on the Governor’s website, German automotive supplier to create 178 jobs in Dublin
Erdrich Umformtechnik to invest $39 million in Laurens County, Deal reportsSo apparently at least one locality in Georgia is capable of attracting this kind of industry.
Gov. Nathan Deal announced today that Erdrich Umformtechnik GmbH & Co.KG (Erdrich), a German-based automotive supplier, will construct a state-of-the-art metal stamping facility in Dublin in Laurens County. The company will create 178 jobs and invest $39 million in the construction of this plant.
“Automotive industry suppliers find in Georgia the logistics infrastructure, skilled workforce and overall business environment necessary for them to compete globally while meeting the needs of their customers,” Deal said. “I am also encouraged to see yet another German company call Georgia home, indicating even further that our efforts to build and foster international relationships are yielding positive results. Georgia proudly welcomes Erdrich to our state.”
Erdrich is a midsized family-owned company that produces complex metal parts and subassemblies for the automotive industry, and has been in the metal stamping business for more than 50 years. The company has two plants in Germany, one in the Czech Republic and another in China that supplies parts to other automotive supplier companies as well to BMW, Mercedes and Volkswagen.
“Following an extensive multistate search for the right U.S. business location for our company, we were delighted to find the right fit in Dublin, Georgia,” said CEO Georg Erdrich. “This very pro-business community met our requirements with respect to logistics to our customers, access for our suppliers, operating costs, workforce and quality of life. The economic development leadership at the state and local level worked closely with us to make our decision based on confidence in the data, the business analysis and the leadership.”
So I happened to wake up and wanted to check something online. No DSL service. (Yes, I rebooted the DSL modem.) Determined the modem was working and the problem was beyond it in AT&T’s network. Thought maybe there’s a tree down on the line.
Called AT&T. Message said “high speed” Internet technical support hours are 6AM to 11PM, so please call back then for best service. Excuse me? The Internet is supposed to shut down overnight?
Stayed on, outwaited the robot, got a tech in the Philippines, Continue reading
Mayor Dave Bing is apparently working on a radical plan that would bulldoze a quarter of the city — some of the most desolate areas — and return it to farmland, the way it was before the automobile. Any residents still there would be relocated to stronger neighborhoods.
Dan Kildee, treasurer of Genessee County, containing Flint, Michigan, remarks:
“The obsession with growth is sadly a very American thing. Across the US, there’s an assumption that all development is good, that if communities are growing they are successful. If they’re shrinking, they’re failing.”Actually, building more subdivisions just increases the deficit between tax revenues collected and cost of services provided.
Welcome to the future. Why does it look so much like 1910 instead of 2010?Perhaps because 1910 had railroads for mass transit and cities were still dense and close to existing services?