Here comes the sun!
Solar photovoltaic prices have fallen by two-thirds since 2008, fueling the installation rate to double each year for the last two, according to Jonathan Fahey, of Business Week.
Real estate companies are racing to install solar panels on office buildings. Utilities are erecting large solar panel "farms" near big cities and in desolate deserts. And creative financing plans are making solar more realistic than ever for homes. ... Solar power installations doubled in the United States last year and are expected to double again this year. More solar energy is being planned than any other power source, including nuclear, coal, natural gas and wind.
"We are at the beginning of a turning point," says Andrew Beebe, who runs global sales for Suntech Power, a manufacturer of solar panels.
... The sun splashes more clean energy on the planet in one hour than humans use in a year, and daytime is when power is needed most. And solar panels can be installed near where people use power, reducing or eliminating the costs of moving power through a grid.
Nationwide, solar power installations grew by 102 percent from 2009 to 2010, by far the fastest rate in the past five years.
Although, we've been hearing a lot of good news from the solar industry, Carl Pope, Chairmen of the Sierra Club, writes in China Should Play by the Rules, and America Should Play to Win, to urgently warn us that unless the US adopts an industrial policy and strategy as aggressive as the People's Republic of China we are going to lose this industry just like we did with the auto, electronics, and integrated circuit industries to Japan.
China is alleged to have given it's solar manufacturer's over $30 billion in start-up subsidies. And, is starting the same strategy for the wind industry.
Carl Pope, Chairmen of the Sierra Club, warns us that China Should Play by the Rules, and America Should Play to Win.
There's no doubt the U.S. is losing the clean-energy race. In 2010 our level of investment in clean energy fell behind both China and Germany, with a growth rate that is 11th among the industrial nations. Last year, China gave $30 billion to its largest solar manufacturers, 20 times the amount that the United States gave, according to Jonathan Silver, former executive director of the U.S. Energy Department's loan program. As a result, in 2010 China sold more than half of the world's solar panels, and is now gearing up a similar effort to dominate global wind markets.
We are consistently losing both manufacturing and deployment leadership in clean-energy technologies that were pioneered and developed in the United States. That's simply not worth debating -- the interesting question is what should we do about it?
Pope's articulate description of strategies, 1) Give up, 2) Invent Only, 3) Enforce Rules, 4) Win the Game - With Manufacturing," is worth reading just to see a top notch strategic thinker at his best. I'm sorry my evening's schedule is so rushed I can not spend a few hours analyzing this article, you should definitely read it. We publish many articles on the technology and economics of roof-top solar photovoltaic panels, but very little on the international competition with the PRC, which has made domination of this core energy technology of the next century, one of it's highest national policy and economic goals.
If we in the US are going to stay in the game and "play to win" we will probably have to get off of our self-erected pedestal of free trade and develop an industrial strategy to match China's. And, then continue to evolve this alternative model used by almost all other nations to cultivate and re-energize our remaining manufacturing base. This should be one of top national security priorities.
If all we do is go after the Chinese when they cheat, we'll still lose. The way you win a game is by setting out to win it. And if the game pits countries against other countries, Team U.S.A has to play. That's the final perspective on the clean energy race, and its strongest advocates are major corporate leaders like -- unsurprisingly, perhaps -- Andy Grove -- and more surprisingly Andrew Liveris, the CEO of Dow Chemical. These leaders see our loss of the clean-energy race as emblematic of a broader national failure -- the inability to see that manufacturing, whether for established products like cars or new ones like solar cells -- is essential for economic vitality.
We need an American commitment to become first in manufacturing clean-energy technologies. Upstream, that requires that we invest in programs like the Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, so that we will have the best new technology. Downstream, it requires that clean energy developers have fair access to utility markets and customers, as well as reliable access to capital to build their turbines and solar farms. But it will also require a national manufacturing innovation policy -- one that enables the U.S. to deploy the new ideas it creates, manufacture the products its markets demand, and do so on a level playing field with the rest of the world.
It will be worth it, because over the next 100 years we will be converting our entire economic base to renewable energy alternatives and solar PVs will be a large part of this for electrical generation.
So I have to run into the darkness, have a Happy Halloween
With our Super Congressional Committee targeting Medicare, the European Debt crises, the GOP inroads into blue states, and the prospect of the Chinese running away with the solar energy we do not have to dress up to have a scary Halloween this year, but I like to do it anyway.
Try to enjoy it.
7:19 PM PT:
HypnoToad says you will support a US industrial and economic policy to give our solar industry a fair playing field against the Chinese manufacturers! And, please consider recommending this diary as a symbolic first gesture of support! Croak! Lol I have no shame on Halloween folks. Artistic license. BTW I'm not exploiting Hypnotoad magic for personal gain, because tonight this is me dressed up as Hypnotoad, Bwa, ha, ha, ha!
BTW Modules = solar panels.