Solyndra And Our Solar Future

7 Oct

The prospect of a large-scale solar power installation has been increasingly appealing as a way to limit fossil fuel consumption. The fuel is free, renewable, and inexhaustible and since we consume the most energy during day, peak availability aligns well with peak demand. The greatest hurdles to widespread adoption have been the high cost of the technology and storage.

DOE has put close to $30 billion dollars into a large number of companies pursuing renewable technologies. Although media has recently focused on $535 million allocated as a loan guarantee to the now-bankrupt solar panel company Solyndra, they haven’t been telling the entire story. Rather than aim to chase down a so-called scandal, we should be celebrating great strides forward throughout the industry to provide the right incentives for renewed investment.

What’s important to remember is that funding for science is different from other government expenditures because failure is part of the process. It doesn’t mean we should stop looking for new game-changing technologies toward making solar power widespread and cost-effective domestically and internationally.

During times of economic uncertainty, it’s vital for the United States to stay competitive in the global market. We are on the cusp of an energy revolution, with solar power at the helm, but China—not the United States–has taken the lead.

Price reductions during the past year have been the result of 1) an unexpected 80 percent decrease in the price of polycrystalline silicon used to make panels, 2) new advanced tools from U.S. companies, and 3) dramatic decreases in manufacturing costs in China after the Chinese government provided funding, large subsidies, and free land for solar companies. These changes drove the price of solar panels so low that many U.S. corporations could no longer compete in the market place. Solyndra went bankrupt because worldwide prices fell so far, which is actually to the advantage of U.S. consumers, and in reality, not a bad tradeoff.

One company’s failure is not reason to pull back on federal investment of alternative energies. Instead, it’s incentive to double down on research toward new innovations to stay competitive and find new solutions that boost the American economy.

8 Responses to “Solyndra And Our Solar Future”

  1. rebecca October 7, 2011 at 5:11 pm #

    You make excellent points.

    Recently I’ve become more and more aware of a backlash among wildlife lovers against renewable energy, due to the fact that wind turbines are dangerous to migrating birds and solar “farms” occupy valuable desert habitat. While this is true, what bums me out is that these problems seem to have convinced some environmentalists that these forms of energy are just as bad and unworkable in the long run as fossil fuels, rather than new technologies that still have kinks to be worked out. Sigh.

  2. David Milk October 8, 2011 at 10:15 am #

    Right, it’s great that the whitehouse threw taxpayer money away. With logic like yours, it is no wonder this country is in the sad shape it is in. Wouldn’t the results of lower prices have been the same if Obama hadn’t given millions of our dollars to his contributors? You folks who twist stories to make things look better, make me sick. Just tell it the way it is. When financial institutions make bad loans, Obama says it’s anti-American. When his administration makes bad loans, it’s to be expected.

  3. Estuardo Alpírez October 13, 2011 at 12:06 pm #

    Do you really think that these alternative fuels are a good response against the fussil fuels, you are an engineer, do the math about how much calorific power the fussil fuels has againts all this alternative fuels?. And besides that, when you use food to produce energy, you are going to increase the food prices and more people are going to suffer from hunger. And the solar energy is expensive, very expensive, it has been and it seems that it will be. Let get serius about the energy issue and lets go Nuclear.

    • Tee October 30, 2011 at 11:31 pm #

      Perhaps you could spend a bit more time educating yourself about energy options. Nuclear energy, although an important part of the energy equation, will not satisfy energy needs of this nation or the world. Only renewable energy, that is the energy the globe receives from the sun, can solve the energy needs of the future. It is going to take time and investment to get the right technology and the needed installation base, but solar technologies are the future of energy.

  4. animal solar lights February 20, 2012 at 2:59 am #

    Running water pumps, lighting, money registers, vacuum programs, and robotic tunnel carwash machines takes a lot of amperage and electrical strength, even with all of the hydraulic aid in even the most condition-of-the-art carwashing methods. So, photo voltaic driven carwashes just have not completely taken hold – still. All right so, this is an significant matter and probably, we can hash out a very few of the particulars below for you.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. Was the Solyndra Bankruptcy a Good Thing? | Hotspyer – Breaking News from around the web - October 7, 2011

    [...] Sheril Kirshenbaum: “Solyndra went bankrupt because worldwide prices fell so far, which is actually to the advantage of U.S. consumers, and in reality, that’s not a bad tradeoff.” Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire Tweet This Post Posted in Breaking News Tags: Bankruptcy, good, Solyndra, Thing « High unemployment is on the Republicans’ checklist for 2012 You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. [...]

  2. Solyndra And Our Solar Future | Planet3.0 | Beyond Sustainability - October 13, 2011

    [...] Cross posted from Culture of Science [...]

  3. Solyndra and Our Solar Future | Political News and Opinion from a Multicultural Point of View - October 13, 2011

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