Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fwd: Reports of the death of solar are highly exaggerated


Begin forwarded message:

From: "Adam Browning, Vote Solar" <>
Date: September 15, 2011 6:57:25 PM EDT
Subject: Reports of the death of solar are highly exaggerated


The solar company Solyndra filed for bankruptcy last month, which media reports have depicted as the end of solar power in the U.S. This is like saying there is no future for the internet because Netscape went out of business.

The teeth-gritting irony of it all is that Solyndra was the victim of a big success. The price of solar power has fallen rapidly, making more expensive technologies like theirs uncompetitive – but more importantly making solar power a real player in the U.S. energy economy. 

Read our thoughts on the matter here.  If  you don't like the negative framing that most press outlets are leading with, we *highly* encourage you to take matters into your own hands and write a letter to the editor.  It's easy and quite satisfying.  Contact Rosalind if you'd like some help or statistics to make your case.


Tracking the Sun

In related news, Lawrence Berkeley National Labs just released its latest edition of Tracking the Sun, an annual report of solar PV costs in the US.  Takeaways? 

  • The cost of going solar fell significantly for consumers over the past 18 months. The average pre-incentive cost of residential and commercial solar PV systems decreased 17 percent in 2010, the most significant annual reductions since Lawrence Berkeley National Lab began tracking data. Costs declined another 11 percent in the first half of 2011. 
  • Market-building policies are effectively driving costs down. Reductions in the costs of installation labor, balance of systems, overhead and other non-module costs fell 18 percent from 2009 to 2010. This is significant because, unlike module costs, which are largely determined by the global market, non-module costs are most readily impacted by state and federal policies that accelerate deployment and remove market barriers.
  • U.S. solar incentives are delivering an increasing return on investment.  As a result of lower per watt costs, the average size of direct cash incentives from states and utilities as well as dollar-per-watt value of the federal tax incentive have both steadily decreased since their peak.
  • Increased market scale would likely achieve additional near-term cost reductions. The average installed cost of small residential PV installations in 2010 was significantly lower in Germany ($4.2/W) than in the United States ($6.9/W), where cumulative grid-connected PV capacity in the two countries through 2010 totaled roughly 17,000 MW and 2,100 MW, respectively.

Details here.  The report, along with a PowerPoint briefing and associated data file, can be downloaded here


Who Says Solar is too Expensive?

California utilities have signed contracts for over 8 gigawatts of solar…and over half of that comes in at prices less building new natural gas plants.  The US solar industry has reached a seminal turning point.  Details here.


Get Some Sun
We've got new webinars for your edification and pleasure.  Details and registration here.

Mid-term PV Progress Report
An assessment on the current state of the industry, updates on international PV markets, and prognostications on what it all means for 2012
with Paula Mints of Navigant Consulting, September 21, 10 AM PDT (1 PM EDT)

Collaborative Purchasing: Making Solar Simple, Affordable and Social
Research shows the solar is contagious — can group purchase models drive demand and lower costs?
with Jessie Denver of Group Energy, September 28, 10 AM PDT (1 PM EDT)

Tracking the Sun: An Historical Summary of the Installed Cost of Photovoltaics in the US from 1998 to 2010
with Galen Barbose of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, October 5, 10 AM PDT (1 PM EDT)

Community Choice Aggregation: How can it drive local renewable development?
with Dawn Weisz, Marin Energy Authority, and Megan Maston, LEAN Energy US
October 12, 10 AM PDT (1 PM EDT)

Utility Solar Business Models: What's driving the growing engagement of utilities in the U.S. solar market?
with Bianca Barth of SEPA and Lindsey Rogers of EPRI
November 16, 10 AM PDT (1 PM EDT)


Member Survey
We are doing our 2012 strategic planning, and would like to hear from Vote Solar members. That's you. Can you take a minute to provide feedback, here?


Whew.  Interesting times indeed.


Adam + Team

The Vote Solar Initiative
300 Brannan Street, Suite 609
San Francisco, CA 94107

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