Solopower and accelerating solutions: American as apple pie
Global investment in renewables reached an all time high last year of $257 billion and the big winner was solar, up 52 percent from 2010. U.S. numbers are even better.
By Nick Abraham
Supporting Innovation, private/public partnerships, and seeing high potential ventures through are as all American as apple pie, and today's examples are no different.
What’s getting served up? To start: success when others are claiming
Global investment in renewables reached an all time high last year of $257 billion (17 percent increase) and the big winner was solar up 52 percent from 2010. U.S. numbers are even better. Renewable investment is up 57 percent, in large part due to concentrated investment in solar projects.
At the same
time that investment and technological growth are skyrocketing, costs are
plummeting. The average global cost in 2000 was $4.99/watt and in 2011
it was down to $1.27. In many areas, it is even cheaper than
natural gas and coal, without any discussion of the externalities these
energies come with. The solar industry also employed over 100,000 people in 2011, at over 6,000 companies in
every state in the union, and in the middle of a recession is expected to grow
to 124,000 by the end of this year.
What else is on the plate? Innovation.
Yesterday, Solopower opened up a new 400MW production facility in Portland, OR. Critics have cited that Solo Power’s product is similar to what now infamously bankrupt solar company Solyndra produced. But as CEO Tim Harris bluntly puts it, most critics “just don’t know very much about the business.” Solo has stated that they already have more orders than they can fill and that despite Chinese panels under cutting US producers in the past, Solo offers a unique lightweight product that can be placed on buildings where heavier silicon panels cannot – think older schools, barns, and warehouses (i.e. lots of the built environment out there across America). How ‘bout them apples?
got a loan guarantee from the Dept. of Energy’s loan program—and they won’t see
a dime of that money until they meet certain benchmarks. Imagine if the banking industry had been so
wise with subprime mortgages? Here’s a
little-reported thing about Solopower. The program, started under the Bush administration, has an overall 96 percent success rate.
Many of our thriving
industries today were started by those willing to take risks and through
continued private and public partnership. Think about the attempts to get to
the moon, to launch the internet, to launch the auto industry. In 1903, the United States had over 500 car companies, most of
which quickly fell by the wayside even as the automobile sector grew into an
industrial juggernaut.” (from Bloomberg
report on Renewable Energy Investment)
No one company holds the fate of this rapidly growing industry. The loan program and solar industry are filled with success stories, and yes a few failures, but what industry isn’t? Renewable energy provides a unique opportunity to step away from the heavy burden of fossil fuel dependency and invest in a growth industry that can help bring us out of the financial crisis better than we entered it.
The rhetoric surrounding renewables clouds the fact that investment has been overwhelmingly successful and that we should be celebrating its successes, while continuing to innovate and improve on what we’ve learned. The sun isn’t going anywhere. It’s here to stay and will ripen more apples for that great American pie.