The solar energy industry experience a lot of highs and lows during 2012. The biggest development has been the continued growth of solar energy in the United States. As recently reported, if you compare the third quarter of 2012 with the third quarter of 2011, you would see that there was a 44% growth in the amount of solar photovoltaics (PV) installed in the United States. By anyone’s measure that is a huge growth rate. In our first blog post on the solar energy year in review, we discussed the huge price reduction in solar panels, dwindling incentives, and the effect of competing energy sources particularly natural gas on the adoption of solar energy in the U.S. In this blog post, we can’t avoid talking about some of the troubling issues facing the solar energy industry. We will discuss the Department of Energy loan program and tariffs.
Posts Tagged ‘renewable energy’
For those who want to move more quickly with renewable energy and energy efficiency, the prospect of a nuclear energy disaster spells a clear path to a renewable energy clean solution. Solar farms and solar panels on homes are not going to spell disaster in the event of an earthquake in California. But the calculus for renewable energy just got a lot more complicated as the tradeoffs that Obama can offer have now significantly narrowed.
I was glad to hear that solar made it into Obama’s speech earlier this week, but solar is finding itself lumped in with some strange bedfellows, nuclear and now even natural gas. How did that happen? Sometimes the story of a product or technology is all in the marketing. The success or failure of a product may depend less on the ultimate merits or utility of a product but more on the consumer’s perceptions of that product. In other words, it depends on what consumers think they see, not what they actually see. To get solar into the mainstream, then, we need to come up with a new branding effort. “New and improved solar” is not going to get us very far, but we need you to weigh in helping the solar industry to adopt a new nomenclature that will attract the masses. Think cheap solar, or eco-solar, or simply superb solar. The one that I like the best is sexy solar as in I just put some sexy solar panels on my roof this week.
The death of the energy bill has left a lot of people pointing fingers at each other, and a lot of people wondering if we cannot now take action on climate change, then when—and by whom? A Washington Post article today identifies some very unhappy House Democrats who went out on limb last year to support the energy bill and combat climate change. They now understandably feel hung out to dry. I think that the New York Times columnist Paul Krugman best summarizes the events of the last few days: “Greed, aided by cowardice has triumphed.”
SolarTown met with Mr. Paul Brandus, a White House correspondent with a huge interest in green issues. Brandus is a strong advocate of renewable energy, relating a story on how he personally asked President Obama when solar panels would be installed on the White House, on three separate occasions. Although no solar modules have yet to grace the President’s residence, Brandus expressed his desire to see the 132 rooms of the White House heated by the rays of the sun and the power of the wind, calling the act a great symbolic value to the nation. Incorporating solar and other forms of alternative energy into the lives of Americans is still a major challenge. Interest in environmental-related topics is only illustrated when major catastrophes such as the BP oil spill occurs. After the disaster dies down, the interest responds accordingly. Brandus believes that it will take awhile for solar and renewable energy to fully assimilate into everyone’s lives.
The march to solar energy is on – and the United States has a lot to do to catch up with some other countries that are leading the way. Although there are those would like to think that the desire to reduce one’s carbon footprint is sufficient to convince Americans to go solar, the experience in other countries shows that only cold hard cash, and not the sun’s rays, will convince consumers to leave their fossil fuel lives behind. This opinion piece discusses various government incentive programs available to consumers in the United States who are contemplating placing solar panels on their roofs.
Congratulations to Team Germany for winning the 2009 Solar Decathlon. With a massive 11.1 kW array, and thin film on the walls, there was no one who could match their net metering prowess. Illinois finished second; California, third, and Ontario fourth. Make no mistake about it. Germany won based on the strength of its PV array. It finished in the top five of the other nine categories, except for communications. On net metering, it received 150—out of a total of 150 points. This is the photo of the winning entry.
Alternative energy could easily take the backseat as the price of oil has plummeted and the economy has tanked, just at a time when it seemed that alternative energy was about to gain some traction. But here comes President Obama stimulus plan, in which the President proposes to create 460,000 jobs and to double, that’s right, double the amount of renewable energy produced in this country in the next three years. That would be a powerful statement especially considering the condition of the economy. The big question is in the details, where will these jobs be created, and where will this huge upsurge in renewable energy come from?