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Old 01-20-2012
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I am in the solar materials business (at least for now). I make silicon wafers for PV panels. Solyndra and Evergreen each had their own way of doing things that did not work our. They are bad examples of how the rest of the solar materials industry works today. We all know what happend with Solyndra so no need to beat that dead horse. Evergreen had a novel idea for manufacturing the wafers that worked well when poly prices were high but was too expensive for the lower prices of today.

The huge over supply everyone is talking about is from government regulation playing with the market. All of the European subsidies have gone away since the EU is having serious financial trouble (as is most of the world). Add to that the US subsides for solar that never materialized (the industry kept expecting the US to join the party) and you have significantly less customers and potential customers now than a year ago. It is so bad even the Chinese are beginning to stop production.

Now that we have all of this material available for making panels the panel prices are dropping and installations are on the rise. Prices will continue to drop until supply and demand get balanced.

I will say that without government subsidies solar is not a cost effective means of producing electricity at this time. Especially in developed countries with the infrastructure to deliver centrally produced power. It will have it's time, but it is still a very immature technology. And yes, the processes to make wafers into cells uses some really nasty chemicals in high volumes.

Keep in mind that for the average US home it costs roughly $30,000 USD for a solar installation. How many electric bills will that much money cover. It is more cost effective to make your home more efficient. That installation price will come down for a while and hopefully remain lower after the industry sorts itself out.

I love being in the solar industry and I hope that my company survives the shakeout. Be patient and you will see panel prices drop further as companies try to get some revenue for their stock.
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