Saturday, 16 March 2013

The rise and fall of the solar power industry: Even the Chinese solar panel industry is beginning to crumble

We have seen major manufacturers of solar panels file for bankruptcy in the U.S. , as well as in Europe. Politicians and solar industry lobbyists have blamed Chinese cheap solar panel manufacturers for the failures. But soon there is no-one left to blame: Even China's government supported solar panel industry is beginning to crumble. The collapse of Suntech Power, one of the world's largest manufacturers, is just the beginning: 

One of the world’s largest manufacturers of solar panels, Suntech Power, has nearly run out of cash and is poised to be taken over partly or entirely by the municipal government’s holding company in its hometown, Wuxi, China, solar industry executives and a Wuxi official said Wednesday.

The collapse of Suntech is a milestone in the precipitous decline of China’s green energy industry in the last four years. More than any other country, China had bet heavily on renewable energy as the answer to its related problems of severe air pollution and heavy dependence on energy imports from politically unstable countries in the Middle East and Africa.

So far the solar and wind power producers (as well as panel and turbine manufacturers) have been able to reap windfall profits thanks to government and state support and subsidies. But all over the world the trend is against artificially supporting these ineffective and expensive forms of energy production. Indeed, why on earth should taxpayers enrich the people behind failed technologies, when there is more than enough cheap and clean shale gas and oil around!:

With the advent of US shale production, the domestic supply of natural gas is in such abundance that when adjusted for inflation it’s practically as cheap as it was back in 1999. As a result, gas-fired power is far cheaper than anything else on the wholesale market, with the exception of especially efficient hydro facilities. Even nuclear plants–with their extremely stable fuel costs–can’t always compete, as plans to shut down a small plant in Wisconsin and a larger but problem-plagued facility in Florida demonstrate.

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