We know this much about the solar industry as we approach the end of the year. It was another year of fast moving changes in the industry. The good news is that in 2012, there were a whole lot of solar panels going up on homes and businesses in the U.S. And there were some setbacks for the industry. At the beginning of the year, few had even heard of Solyndra—but by the end of the year, Solyndra had become a household name. As the New Year approaches, we want to reflect back on what 2012 meant for the solar industry. In our blog, we will discuss some of the highs and lows for the solar industry this past year. In this first of two blog posts, we will reflect on the decrease in the price of solar panels, on the effect of natural gas and coal on the solar industry, and finally on the dwindling incentives available to support solar energy.
Posts Tagged ‘solar power’
Have you ever closed your eyes and wondered what a solar utopia would look like? If you are like me, you would think of sandy beaches, a lot of sun, a healthy native population. Maybe you wouldn’t see solar collectors or solar panels in such obvious places. You need not dream any more. The three tiny islands that comprise the New Zealand territory of Tokelau, Atafu, Nukunonu, and Fakaofo, have recently achieved something no other place in the world has accomplished: complete and total freedom from fossil fuels.
You may have heard of flower power in the 1960s and now in the 2010s we have solar power—that you can wear. You may already have purchased from us a solar bag or solar backpack, but soon you may be able to purchase solar couture. Several companies have come out with solar-powered articles of clothing meant for outdoor adventurers. This solar innovation is coming from an unlikely source, the designer and stylist behind Lady Gaga’s infamous meat dress, Nicola Formichetti. Formichetti will be releasing his new line of solar-powered clothing online in mid-2013. Not only will his designs allow their wearer to make a unique fashion statement, they will also charge the wearer’s cellphone.
The summer is coming to an end but you still haven’t bought your solar landscape lights? Every year we see the same trend: our customers purchase their solar powered lights from late spring to the end of summer. Well, it is already light in the summer and you need light in the winter! So now is the time to purchase your solar lamp post lights to lighten your walkways during the winter, solar patio lights to take advantage of our outdoors during the fall or other outdoor solar lights. And all year around you will enjoy solar garden fountains.
Is this any way to drive an industry? The answer is a resounding no. The US has virtually no federal renewable energy policy, and almost by accident has become a major solar market in the world despite itself. Many naysayers like to frame the argument in terms of subsidies and handouts, but virtually all forms of energy get some form of governmental support, which for those industries is called policy—somehow people call it subsidies when referring to support for the solar industry and other renewable energy. What makes the solar energy industry special is the extent to which it has had to depend on a patchwork of state and local incentive structures that are as fragile as the state and local budgets to which they are beholden. As local budgets tighten, the windows close leaving many homeowners out of luck and out of patience. Only those who have been able to maneuver their way to the front of the line get the reward. As states cut back on their budgets, solar support has become precarious. Underfunded and handled on a state-by-state basis, failed incentives are leaving homeowners who want to put solar panels on their homes out in the cold and the market unstable and unpredictable. There is a clear need for a stable, long-term federal incentive structure and Congress and the Administration should see that it is in the interest of the country to forge this policy sooner than later.
If you are looking for activities to do with your kids—when they are home because of the snow, or earthquakes, or just for a weekend activity, then you may want to check out our new sister site meant just for kids, parents and teachers. SolarTownKids is meant for kids who want to teach their parents a thing or two about solar energy. SolarTownKids introduces the basics of solar energy for kids and explains why and how we should use solar power. Many schools throughout the country are putting solar panels on their roofs, and these solar arrays are great learning tools for kids to understand the power of solar energy. As our kids are getting back to school, we encourage you to visit this special site for solar kids.
During this holiday season, you may be reflecting on what we can do in our homes and businesses to go green or put onto our roofs solar home panels. But it doesn’t need to stop there. Why not generate solar energy from our churches and synagogues? This isn’t a new idea; it is just an idea whose time has come. This blog post talks about the efforts of congregations throughout the country that are looking for ways to go green.