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Thread: Bad News for the solar panel industry

              
   
   
  1. #1
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    Bad News for the solar panel industry

    According to a long article in my newspaper today "contributed to" by the Washington Post, the solar panel industry in the US is having a tough time. It seems that while US startup companies in the US were attempting to find venture capital and other financing and then building their pilot manufacturing plants, the Chinese have been investing huge sums of cheap government money into their industry and building large solar panel plants at a rapid pace. This year they have driven down the price of solar panels by 40% and have grabbed market share far more quickly than anyone anticipated.

    In the case of one manufacturer, Solyndra, located in Fremont, CA, they invested $1 billion dollars from investors and received another $535 million loan guarantee for the company's new robot-run, 300,000 sf solar panel factory, known as Fab 2. Unfortunately, while they were building the plant, just one factory in Shanghai, JA Solar, by the end of the year, will have the capacity to produce 1.8 gigawatts of panels each year. They have increased their employees from 4000 last year to 11,000 this year. By comparison, Solyndra expects to have a total production capacity of 300 MW by the end of 2011. This trend is driving away financiers from investing in new US factories and the article says that the future of the US solar industry is dimming.

    In one case, another startup, Innovalight, located in Silicon Valley, has abandoned solar module manufacturing altogether. The company had developed what it calls a silicon ink, which increases a solar cell's efficiency when it is printed on a standard silicon wafer. After installing a 10 MW production line in late 2008, Innovalight decided that, rather than compete with the Chinese, they would license the patented ink technology to them and avoid having to raise hundreds of millions of dollars to build a factory of their own. None of this sounds like good news to me.

    On a positive note (I think), the US Army is installing solar cells on their forward bases in Afghanistan to cut down on the use of fuel to power their generators. This has resulted because they are paying between $400 and $500 per barrel for fuel and guarding fuel convoys is resulting in heavy troop casualties, according to a news report last night.

  2. #2
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    It's ironic that a Communist regime in China is beating us at our own game. The Chinese government controls, protects and invests heavily in their own industries in order for China to win the global economic war. Our government is controlled and manipulated by large corporations who are only interested in enriching themselves.
    You can thank our own American corporations and their corporatist lap dogs in our government for helping China to become the manufacturing Superpower they are today.

  3. #3
    electrician
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    You can also thank our socialist government who hates capitalism. Let the capitalist go and there is nothing we can't overcome.

  4. #4
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    You can also thank our socialist government who hates capitalism
    Socialism?? Hardly, this is pure corporatism. The largest transfer of wealth in world history from "we the people" into the pockets of a few powerful corporate monopolies.
    You can call it Crony Capitalism, monopoly Capitalism, or even Fascism. It certainly is not socialism.
    If it was Socialism, we would have a single payer health care system, the banks would be owned by us, as well as our natural resources and energy production.
    Instead, government has given the insurance monopolies millions of subsidized new customers, without demanding real reform, handed over $billions to the banks to continue business as usual, and failed to pass reform preventing tax write-offs for companies outsourcing American jobs, in addition to not enforcing fair trade and currency manipulation agreements.
    I would conclude that our laws and policies over the last 30 years have acted almost exclusively in the best interests of big business, that's called Corporatism, not Socialism.

  5. #5
    electrician
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    The industrial complex in America is suffering not thriving, the banks are owned and directed by this government, the auto industry, the lone exception is Ford, is beholding to the government. The government has their bloody hands in every aspect of our lives. This government is more socialist than capitalist. This government is doing everything it can to stifle small business.

  6. #6
    teddillard
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    I always heartily enjoyed this forum for two reasons- because it's a group of people actually doing something about developing EV technology, and because of the complete lack of political rhetoric. I know for a fact that we represent polar extremes of the political landscape, yet we all generally show respect and tolerance. Could we continue that please, and avoid the inflammatory labeling, stereotyping and blanket generalizations, please? ...and pass the crayons.
    Last edited by teddillard; 18 October 2010 at 1013.

  7. #7
    Senior Member billmi's Avatar
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    So I guess I won't be changing my Avatar to that portrait of Jimmy Carter after all...

    Well said, Ted.

  8. #8
    electrician
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    No problem. I will stay off of political topics.

  9. #9
    Gestalt
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    the chinese are doing what they do with all our products, bigger, cheaper and cheaper. and I'm sure they have figured out what I have seen for long time, that in the long run it is a sound financial move. but they don't often seem to do it better, cheap solar is still heavy and fragile. here in the US as well as in other countries there are people making great progress in the realm of thin film solar. integrating solar in with the rest of our technologies needs something that is not bulky and fragile, and though the tech is not very efficient yet I'm sure it will catch up.

    we need to stop being such slaves to cheap chinese crap, we're all pretty damn guilty of that.

  10. #10
    teddillard
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    Quote Originally Posted by billmi View Post
    So I guess I won't be changing my Avatar to that portrait of Jimmy Carter after all...

    Well said, Ted.
    dude. change your avatar to anything. i beg you.

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