PG&E’s bankruptcy will have a dramatic effect on all electricity users in northern California — as well as utility investors, California taxpayers, and the solar industry in general. Moreover, the bankruptcy of one of the largest utilities in the country is a harbinger of the need to change the traditional utility business model. Not only are utilities experiencing competition from businesses and homeowners installing their own solar and storage systems (for less money), but utilities are also experiencing much greater than expected costs related to maintaining their transmission and distribution services. Devastating fires are more common, people are living in more fire-prone areas, our need for electricity is increasing … and this situation is likely to get worse. (more…)
According the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) there are about 70 million residential and commercial buildings in the US that are suitable for rooftop solar. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) estimates that there are about 1.6 million systems that have already been installed. So with less than 2 percent market penetration, we haven’t even scratched the surface. How long will it take for us to get to say, 10 million solar systems … or 35 million, about half the rooftop capacity in the U.S.? (more…)
With the solar industry chaos of 2018 behind us, many of us are looking toward more predictable growth from 2019…at least until the Investment Tax Credit goes to zero for residential and 10% for commercial on December 31, 2021. Then again, we’re on the solar coaster, so it is unwise to be complacent about a rosy solar future — or the broader economy, for that matter. Here are my 10 predictions for 2019. (more…)
Attention U.S. Department of Commerce: your well-intentioned efforts to help the U.S. solar panel manufacturing industry are not working.
Even with 30%+ tariffs on imported solar panels and cells, the remaining U.S. manufacturers are struggling to stay competitive. The good news, as one would expect, is that there is strong demand for Made in the U.S.A. solar panels – both from ordinary consumers as well as government purchases. However, structural issues with the supply chain for solar components puts the remaining U.S. manufacturers at a substantial disadvantage. (more…)
Success in the solar industry requires leaders with a diverse skill set. Leaders must really understand the technology’s evolution, be effective with sales and marketing, coordinate what always seem to be chaotic operations, juggle financial issues and manage a growing team. I’m always interested in learning from people who have this diverse background — and have demonstrated success in the solar industry. (more…)
Some people just love riding the “solar coaster” – both the exciting up times and the death-defying plunges…usually from some totally unexpected outside force. It’s great to hear from industry veterans who have managed to thrive through both good times and bad. (more…)
The “climate” for solar is most favorable when there are high electric rates and incentives. For these reasons the PV industry grew fastest on the west and east coasts. Now that prices have come down and incentives have extended throughout the country, solar is taking off in Midwestern states, too. (more…)
Over the past few months we’ve experienced a solar eclipse, several devastating hurricanes, another under-construction nuclear plant shutdown, and a backwards-looking Department of Energy Grid Reliability study.
The performance of our electric grid during the eclipse demonstrates how well a flexible, well-managed grid can handle predictable events. These severe weather events show how vulnerable our electric grid really is, how dependent we as a society have become on electric power, and how valuable some form of backup power is for homeowners. The nuclear plant shutdown clearly shows that nuclear power cannot compete against cheap natural gas. (more…)