Tag Archives: solar PV

Solar shakeout

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.

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Electric utiltiies know about Moore’s Law for solar power

And they know compound annual growth, even at a low 22% rate, is going to cause them a heap of trouble.

More from the Edison Electric Institute January 2013 report, Disruptive Challenges: Financial Implications and Strategic Responses to a Changing Retail Electric Business,

The decline in the price of PV panels from $3.80/watt in 2008 to $0.86/watt in mid-20121. While some will question the sustainability of cost-curve trends experienced, it is expected that PV panel costs will not increase (or not increase meaningfully) even as the current supply glut is resolved. As a result, the all-in cost of PV solar installation approximates $5/watt, with expectations of the cost declining further as scale is realized;

Sure, costs won’t continue to drop forever, but Continue reading

Who will let the sun shine on Georgia?

Someone asked who to vote for who will represent the people more than the electric utilities, on Elect Georgia legislators and Public Service Commissioners who will let the sun shine on Georgia! OK, here’s my opinion.

Sec. State provides you with a sample ballot.

For PSC, vote for somebody who isn’t an incumbent (the incumbents are marked on the ballot). The election today is a primary, so you need to select a Democratic ballot (Steve Oppenheimer District 3 is not an incumbent) or a Republican ballot (Pam Davidson District 5 and Matt Reid District 3 are not incumbents).

For the legislature, here is a list of who voted for the nuke stealth tax as a charge on Georgia Power bills for electricity nobody will get for years if ever. On your ballot, see if somebody else is running against them. Around here, somebody is: Bikram Mohanty for State Senate District 8, Teresa Lawrence for State House District 174, and JC Cunningham for State House District 175, all Democrats, since the incumbents switched parties after being elected last time.

So, if you want solar and wind energy for jobs, energy independence, and profit in the state of Georgia, instead of Georgia Power’s bet-the-farm nuclear risk at Plant Vogtle and Southern Company’s natural gas fracking, that’s who I would vote for.

If, like me, you didn’t already vote early, today is the final day to vote in this primary, and you and I’ll be going down to the precinct polling place to cast a ballot. Today’s the day!

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Solar feed-in tariff in Georgia?

To make up for lost time in getting Georgia in the lead in solar power for jobs, energy independence, and profit, how about we elect legislators who will implement a feed-in tariff? If we can afford massive subsidies to Georgia Power and Southern Company for electricity nobody will get for years from their nuke boondoggle, we can afford a feed-in tariff that costs nobody until solar (and wind) power is actually generated.

According to last month’s Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2012,

Support for renewable power generation remains the most popular policy option with at least 65 countries and 27 states now having feed-in-tariffs (FITs).

Fred wrote for ReVision Energy 10 August 2010, NREL: Feed in Tariffs Drive Competition, Costs Down for Renewables, While Increasing Growth,

“The arguments in favor of a FIT policy are primarily economic in nature. These include the ability to … stimulate significant and quantifiable growth of local industry and job creation … [and] only cost money if projects actually operate”

Get that last part? “…only cost money if projects actually operate” unlike Southern Company’s Plant Vogtle nuke boondoggle, which is costing Georgia Power customers right now on their bills, even though they won’t get any electricity from those nukes for years, if ever, plus they’re on the hook for cost overruns, too, already $400 million and climbing.

Look at that map: the big blank space in the southeast is mostly Southern Company’s “Competitive Generation Opportunities”, minus Florida. Translation: where Southern Company holds us back from leading the world in solar energy.

Dear Thomas A. Fanning, CEO of Southern Company, and Paul Bowers, CEO of Georgia Power: how about turn that ship around and get in the lead of the convoy?

Well, they may not listen, but we the voters have an opportunity right now to elect Georgia legislators and Public Service Commissioners who will put a lid on the power utility smoke and let the sun shine on Georgia!

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Elect Georgia legislators and Public Service Commissioners who will let the sun shine on Georgia!

Solar PV prices have dropped so much they’re competitive with coal, natural gas, and nuclear. The only thing that stops Georgia from leading the country and the world in solar energy is our legislature and Public Service Commission kow-towing to the electric companies instead of serving the public. How about we elect Georgia legislators and PSC members who will change that?

How about if we elect legislators who will stop approving nuclear boondoggles for Southern Company through a stealth tax on Georgia Power customers? How about we elect Georgia Public Service Commissioners who will stop giving Georgia Power a guaranteed profit through charging cost overruns (already $400 million) for the Plant Vogtle boondoggle to Georgia Power customers?

How about instead we fully fund the existing 35% state tax rebate for renewable energy? Last year Georgia legislators did double the money in that fund, but it’s still only $5 million a year and the funding for 2012 has already been used up. $5 million a year for power after it’s installed, while Georgia Power and Southern Company have already run $400 million over budget on nuclear energy that nobody will see for years, if ever! We need Georgia legislators who understand that Moore’s Law for solar means fast growth; growth in jobs, energy independence, and profit for Georgians.

To bring Georgia to the lead in renewable energy in this country and the world, all we really need to do is to pass something like SB 401 to modify that arrogant dinosaur of a 1973 Georgia Territoriality Electric Service Act that prevents you from getting financing to install solar generation and selling it through the grid at a profit, with the electric utility taking a cut and bragging rights.

It is time to let the south Georgia sun break through the clouds of power utility disinformation and regulatory capture. It is time for us to elect Georgia legislators and Georgia Public Service Commissioners who will let the sun shine on us in Georgia!

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Solar PV costs dropped 50% last year: time for south Georgia to lead in solar power

Solar energy continues to grow by leaps and bounds worldwide. Except in Georgia. Maybe we should change that. There’s an election going on right now.

Frank Jordans wrote for AP 11 June 2012, $257 billion invested in renewable energy in 2011,

Global investment in renewable energy reached a record of $257 billion last year, with solar attracting more than half the total spending, according to a U.N. report released Monday.

Investment in solar energy surged to $147 billion in 2011, a year-on-year increase of 52 percent thanks to strong demand for rooftop photovoltaic installations in Germany, Italy, China and Britain.

Large-scale solar thermal installations in Spain and the United States also contributed to growth during a fiercely competitive year for the solar industry. Several large American and German manufacturers fell victim to price pressure from Chinese rivals that helped to halve the cost of photovoltaic modules in 2011.

Lower solar PV module price should mean more people can afford to install solar electricity, which should mean more jobs for people to install it. How much lower? According to the report:

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