Posts tagged “photovoltaic”
Three Thoughts on the State of the Solar Market
There has been some upheaval upstream in the solar industry. If you follow the solar business for any reason you know that solar manufacturers are challenged by excess supply and dropping panel prices, just this week rumors that industry stalwart JA Solar was facing possible delisting by NASDAQ surfaced. There have obviously been some high-profile failures of solar manufacturing companies. None of this should have come as a surprise – industry consolidation was expected (or should have been). Consolidation occurs naturally when an industry or technology moves up the adoption curve – new participants, new approaches to technology, new manufacturing techniques, increased scale and competition all accelerate price declines, which inevitably leaves some early industry participants vulnerable because sunk investment forces higher per unit production costs. In the case of solar, a surprisingly rapid drop in prices for photovoltaic panels was further accelerated by significant Chinese government investment in panel manufacturing capacity. The pace of the price drop surprised much of the industry and overleveraged solar manufacturers were caught trying to meet price points that were economically unsustainable. (See more: Wind Tax Credits and the State of Solar: A Discussion With Admiral Dennis McGinn)
After showing off its innovative product to investors for more than nine months, California-based startup QBotix is preparing to release its so-called solar robots next month, autonomous machines that promise to cut the cost of producing solar electricity by up to 20 percent.
Solar energy plants around the world currently use either single-axis or dual-axis tracking systems to rotate photovoltaic solar arrays in order to keep them pointing towards the Sun throughout the day and the year, helping them to boost electricity production by as much as 45 percent in comparison to arrays that use no tracking system at all. While reliable and effective, these types of tracking systems are expensive; because each individual array must contain a motor and other moving parts, the energy cost that each system demands is high.