Recommended Article, Solar: The Best of Times; The Worst of Times”

Storm Clouds Shutterstock, Main Image for Article in

We didn’t write this, but we like it and recommend that you read it. It was originally published on September 11, 2012 on in an article about the opening session of Solar Power International 2012.

It opened with a panel discussion on the state of the industry and Dickens’ novel “A Tale of Two Cities” was aptly quoted:

‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness.’

“Even in the worst economic times, our industry is growing,” Resch said. The U.S. achieved its best quarter in history for the utility solar sector in the second quarter of 2012, according to a report released Monday by GTM Research and SEIA. Currently, over half of the states have more than 5 MW of solar installed, and the majority of the U.S. population lives in states that have more than 50 MW of solar on line, Resch said.

However, the “worst of times” could be yet to come for the solar industry. “Our industry is under direct attack,” Resch said. “Conservative super packs are attacking clean energy.” Over $1 billion is being spent on negative advertising against clean energy during the presidential campaign, Resch said.”Full Article “Solar: The Best of Times; The Worst of Times.”  Below, is a synopsis of key items reviewed in the item.

First, the discussion was honest: it covered the failure of some solar companies, the way some companies (we won’t name who) who make sell some of the very few solar street lights in the USA that artificially inflated prices to take advantage of incentives, and the short and long-term job outlook for the solar industry. recommends this article on the state of the solar industry because it doesn’t pull any punches:  it admits mistakes were made but still saw the future of the solar industry as looking bright.

Although the long-term viability, for example, of solar depends largely on efficiently storing solar power the article points out that in the short-term, innovation is key. (Unlike China, who aims to dominate by dumping current technology where ever they can, the US and other countries such as Germany are focusing on providing better, more efficient solar through innovation.)

We do recommend that you read the entire article, but here are some highlights:

The future growth of the solar market will be largely dependent on four factors: social dynamics, political issues, technological issues and economic issues.

Even though the current price of natural gas is low, the industry should remember that in 2008, it was nearly four times its current cost. And increasing demand for coal coming from China and the price on carbon regulation will only cause coal’s cost to rise.

While many solar companies may be close their doors over the next few years, it is expected that the number of Americans employed in the solar industry to increase by 2016. While the solar industry currently has just over 100,000 employees, the industry is expected to to employ over 500,000 in the next few years.

But, will the political climate (and your vote) prove that moving toward renewable energy AND cleaner gas/coal be, as Dickens wrote ” a far, far better thing” or will the old oil companies (how quickly people we forget BP in the Gulf or Exxon in Alaska) keep the lion’s share of government funding for energy research?


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