Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Silver Tint of the Clouds of Doubt

There are dark clouds on the solar horizon.  Here are a few reasons why:
  • All time low natural gas prices are driving down the cost of electricity and heating.
  • Little public concern for climate change and zero political appetite for carbon mitigation legislation.
  • Movement by utilities across the country to discourage solar PV interconnection.
  • Economic depression with faint hope for the new construction market which is essential to a robust economy.
  • Confusion in the public about the health of the solar industry due to high profile business failures like Solyndra.
This too shall pass as the famous proverb says because all material conditions, both positive and negative, are temporary.  All is not lost for solar.  We have a global energy market now and other parts of the world are adopting solar at such a clip that the US is going to benefit in the next phase of solar growth.

  • The all time low natural gas prices hurt natgas producers and they are predicting rising prices due to production modifications and new markets for natgas like transportation.
  • Solar provides a hedge against wild swings in energy prices--for many decades not just a few years.  Solar as a risk avoidance play is already viable around the world.
  • Solar accounts for 4% of the electricity capacity in Germany but provides up to 50% of the load at key times during the year and day.  Germany has an inferior solar resource to anywhere in the continental United States.
  • The cost of subsidized solar is rapidly approaching the cost of utility provided power.  Coupled with accelerating improvements in grid storage, utility barriers are becoming irrelevant.
  • Solar of all types is very easy to install and requires very little training for professional contractors.  It will not take long to scale up solar once the market forces align.
  • With nuclear energy on the decline, solar with grid storage is the only viable solution to provide stable power today and into the future.

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don't you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don't give up though the pace seems slow--
You may succeed with another blow.
Often the goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man, 
Often the struggler has given up, 
When he might have captured the victor's cup, 
And he learned too late when the night slipped down, 
How close he was to the golden crown.
Success is failure turned inside out--
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt, 
And you never can tell how close you are, 
It may be near when it seems so far, 
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit-- 
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.

- Author unknown

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