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Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Dark Cloud Over Solar Power

It's been a Democratic talking point if not an article of faith that the implosion of the US solar industry led by Solyndra was done in by cheap solar panels from China that glutted the world market. That is probably the truth but not the whole truth. The whole truth would also include the inconvenient fact that not even China can make money selling solar panels. An article in the Telegraph states;
“China’s big five firms are all reporting disastrous trading and heavily indebted balance sheets. At the end of the first quarter, JA Solar listed debt and liabilities of $1.5 billion, Trina Solar had debts of $1.08 billion, and Yingli had debts of $3.44 billion.”
The fifth company, LDK, is being kept afloat by the Chinese government despite losing $185.2 million in the first quarter as sales dropped by 75 percent. It has laid off 4500 employees and is operating at about 20% capacity.
So what went wrong? What went wrong is that not even China can manufacture solar panels cheaply enough to make solar power an option at it's present level of technology. China's manufacturers prospered only as long as the US and European countries were willing to use taxpayer dollars to subsidize goofy, green, goals. Now that both regions are faced with grim economic realities and can no longer afford subsidies China, once touted by Obama as the example America should follow looks a lot like Solyndra and Abound Solar.

1 comment:

  1. The real elephant in the room when you are talking about solar power is that the concept is fundamentally flawed.

    Sun only shines during the daylight hours. Period. To store sun produced power requires enormous storage batterie banks, inverters to change DC to AC, the list goes on and on. So, backup fossil fuel generation must be provided to insure constant electrical needs.

    To exacerbate the solar farce, the panels themselves deteriorate at anywhere from 2-5% per year in efficiency. When a panel gets to 50% efficiency, it is no longer considered suitable and needs to be replaced. Therefore, the useful life of solar panels can be only 10 years. Even at the low Chinese prices there is a 60-80 year ROI even if the panels lasted 80 years.

    The whole dynamic is a fraud.