You’ve probably already heard the news that the world’s largest solar company, China’s Suntech, has gone bankrupt, defaulting on debts of over $540 million in bond payments. In recent years, world solar panel production has increased dramatically and prices have dropped accordingly – as much as 75% over 5 years. While world demand for solar panels has been increasing substantially, production has still been outstripping demand. These factors, as well as others, have caused a significant shakeout in the solar industry, and it certainly looks like it’s not over yet.
However, despite what many naysayers will tell you, this far from spells the end of the rise of solar power and the solar industry. As has been pointed out before, many emerging industries start with many companies hoping to be the world’s supplier of their chosen product or service; an often used example is in the auto industry. There have been thousands of automakers in the history of the industry. Many went out of business quickly, some grew and later were acquired by others. Today, the auto industry is one of the biggest industries in the world, but how many companies are there left?
The same is true of many industries. Let’s look at a much more recent example of an emerging sector. Remember the Dot-com Bubble and Tech Wreck that followed? There were many dot-com companies hoping for a big slice of the action in each sector. Again, there was a big shakeout but some survived and thrived; some new players continued to emerge as well. Today, we have Google, Amazon, Facebook and a few others dominating different areas.
It remains to be seen how the solar industry will play out, but there’s little doubt that the use of solar panels is going from strength to strength. Let’s not forget that solar installations is the United States grew by 76% last year: 76%! Unnoticed by many because it is still a relatively small industry, solar power has been growing exponentially for a couple of decades. Despite all the bad news headlines about companies going under, there’s little reason to think that growth won’t continue, especially with that thing called climate change looming larger and larger with every passing year. I’d say the solar revolution is only just beginning. What do you think?
Image CC licensed by Andreas Demmelbauer