Scale it like solar?

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Adam Barber
March 29, 2013
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Scale it like solar?

We often compare and contrast the wind industry with other markets and sectors in our analysis, particularly those from which we feel we can learn.

We’ve looked previously at the automotive and defence industries, to provide a better indication of how mass manufacturing, the use of composite materials and selling to global markets can collectively provide blueprints for those working in wind.

But perhaps we’re guilty of not looking to a market even closer to home?

To an industry that is both clean and compelling, and, that just like wind, has found itself susceptible to the vagaries of Governmental policy, subsidies and support.

We are of course talking about the solar sector – an industry that can provide us all with a few lessons – both in terms of what needs to be avoided and in how to capitalise and exploit on future commercial opportunity.

However, let’s take a step back. For, on the surface, solar suffers a fairly distinctive malaise.

The price of the technology has plummeted; slashing the operating profits of many major manufacturers and forcing developers and investors to look for greater volume in order to retain future profitability.

Add to that an aggressive market acquisition strategy pursued by the Chinese (that in the past twelve months has led to many of its more established players selling panels for a fraction of the true price of production) and you’ve got an almost instant global market on your hands.

Panels have been produced and shipped into North America and Western Europe at an alarmingly fast rate and developers have been inundated with cheap, efficient technology in which to deploy, operate and invest.

And while the EU Commission continues to explore the longer-term implications of dumping hundreds of thousands of low-cost solar panels into the market – suddenly the wider market has opened itself up to a steady stream of new developers and investors, eager to capitalise on the boom and to cash in.

However, despite the initial market euphoria, local economies and policymakers already starting to wise up.

Cost effective grid connections are becoming an increasing challenge, permitting issues have become progressively more complex and while early ground has been gained, as projects scale up, suddenly that initial momentum starts to slow.

Indeed, as the solar energy market matures – and interest and attention in the market grows – suddenly this once entrepreneurial clean energy market has to start answering tough questions.

Questions that demonstrate greater accountability, that demonstrate greater energy market understanding and depth and questions that ultimately, begin to speak the language of the City.

Sure, independent government tariff changes matter, as do the independent specifics and details of the manufacturer, the operator and the wider supply chain.

However, as solar market developers that want to realise any significant scale have consistently demonstrated, the long term viability of any emerging energy market needs to be lead by those operating on the inside – and not those interested in playing politics.

We often compare and contrast the wind industry with other markets and sectors in our analysis, particularly those from which we feel we can learn.

We’ve looked previously at the automotive and defence industries, to provide a better indication of how mass manufacturing, the use of composite materials and selling to global markets can collectively provide blueprints for those working in wind.

But perhaps we’re guilty of not looking to a market even closer to home?

To an industry that is both clean and compelling, and, that just like wind, has found itself susceptible to the vagaries of Governmental policy, subsidies and support.

We are of course talking about the solar sector – an industry that can provide us all with a few lessons – both in terms of what needs to be avoided and in how to capitalise and exploit on future commercial opportunity.

However, let’s take a step back. For, on the surface, solar suffers a fairly distinctive malaise.

The price of the technology has plummeted; slashing the operating profits of many major manufacturers and forcing developers and investors to look for greater volume in order to retain future profitability.

Add to that an aggressive market acquisition strategy pursued by the Chinese (that in the past twelve months has led to many of its more established players selling panels for a fraction of the true price of production) and you’ve got an almost instant global market on your hands.

Panels have been produced and shipped into North America and Western Europe at an alarmingly fast rate and developers have been inundated with cheap, efficient technology in which to deploy, operate and invest.

And while the EU Commission continues to explore the longer-term implications of dumping hundreds of thousands of low-cost solar panels into the market – suddenly the wider market has opened itself up to a steady stream of new developers and investors, eager to capitalise on the boom and to cash in.

However, despite the initial market euphoria, local economies and policymakers already starting to wise up.

Cost effective grid connections are becoming an increasing challenge, permitting issues have become progressively more complex and while early ground has been gained, as projects scale up, suddenly that initial momentum starts to slow.

Indeed, as the solar energy market matures – and interest and attention in the market grows – suddenly this once entrepreneurial clean energy market has to start answering tough questions.

Questions that demonstrate greater accountability, that demonstrate greater energy market understanding and depth and questions that ultimately, begin to speak the language of the City.

Sure, independent government tariff changes matter, as do the independent specifics and details of the manufacturer, the operator and the wider supply chain.

However, as solar market developers that want to realise any significant scale have consistently demonstrated, the long term viability of any emerging energy market needs to be lead by those operating on the inside – and not those interested in playing politics.

We often compare and contrast the wind industry with other markets and sectors in our analysis, particularly those from which we feel we can learn.

We’ve looked previously at the automotive and defence industries, to provide a better indication of how mass manufacturing, the use of composite materials and selling to global markets can collectively provide blueprints for those working in wind.

But perhaps we’re guilty of not looking to a market even closer to home?

To an industry that is both clean and compelling, and, that just like wind, has found itself susceptible to the vagaries of Governmental policy, subsidies and support.

We are of course talking about the solar sector – an industry that can provide us all with a few lessons – both in terms of what needs to be avoided and in how to capitalise and exploit on future commercial opportunity.

However, let’s take a step back. For, on the surface, solar suffers a fairly distinctive malaise.

The price of the technology has plummeted; slashing the operating profits of many major manufacturers and forcing developers and investors to look for greater volume in order to retain future profitability.

Add to that an aggressive market acquisition strategy pursued by the Chinese (that in the past twelve months has led to many of its more established players selling panels for a fraction of the true price of production) and you’ve got an almost instant global market on your hands.

Panels have been produced and shipped into North America and Western Europe at an alarmingly fast rate and developers have been inundated with cheap, efficient technology in which to deploy, operate and invest.

And while the EU Commission continues to explore the longer-term implications of dumping hundreds of thousands of low-cost solar panels into the market – suddenly the wider market has opened itself up to a steady stream of new developers and investors, eager to capitalise on the boom and to cash in.

However, despite the initial market euphoria, local economies and policymakers already starting to wise up.

Cost effective grid connections are becoming an increasing challenge, permitting issues have become progressively more complex and while early ground has been gained, as projects scale up, suddenly that initial momentum starts to slow.

Indeed, as the solar energy market matures – and interest and attention in the market grows – suddenly this once entrepreneurial clean energy market has to start answering tough questions.

Questions that demonstrate greater accountability, that demonstrate greater energy market understanding and depth and questions that ultimately, begin to speak the language of the City.

Sure, independent government tariff changes matter, as do the independent specifics and details of the manufacturer, the operator and the wider supply chain.

However, as solar market developers that want to realise any significant scale have consistently demonstrated, the long term viability of any emerging energy market needs to be lead by those operating on the inside – and not those interested in playing politics.

We often compare and contrast the wind industry with other markets and sectors in our analysis, particularly those from which we feel we can learn.

We’ve looked previously at the automotive and defence industries, to provide a better indication of how mass manufacturing, the use of composite materials and selling to global markets can collectively provide blueprints for those working in wind.

But perhaps we’re guilty of not looking to a market even closer to home?

To an industry that is both clean and compelling, and, that just like wind, has found itself susceptible to the vagaries of Governmental policy, subsidies and support.

We are of course talking about the solar sector – an industry that can provide us all with a few lessons – both in terms of what needs to be avoided and in how to capitalise and exploit on future commercial opportunity.

However, let’s take a step back. For, on the surface, solar suffers a fairly distinctive malaise.

The price of the technology has plummeted; slashing the operating profits of many major manufacturers and forcing developers and investors to look for greater volume in order to retain future profitability.

Add to that an aggressive market acquisition strategy pursued by the Chinese (that in the past twelve months has led to many of its more established players selling panels for a fraction of the true price of production) and you’ve got an almost instant global market on your hands.

Panels have been produced and shipped into North America and Western Europe at an alarmingly fast rate and developers have been inundated with cheap, efficient technology in which to deploy, operate and invest.

And while the EU Commission continues to explore the longer-term implications of dumping hundreds of thousands of low-cost solar panels into the market – suddenly the wider market has opened itself up to a steady stream of new developers and investors, eager to capitalise on the boom and to cash in.

However, despite the initial market euphoria, local economies and policymakers already starting to wise up.

Cost effective grid connections are becoming an increasing challenge, permitting issues have become progressively more complex and while early ground has been gained, as projects scale up, suddenly that initial momentum starts to slow.

Indeed, as the solar energy market matures – and interest and attention in the market grows – suddenly this once entrepreneurial clean energy market has to start answering tough questions.

Questions that demonstrate greater accountability, that demonstrate greater energy market understanding and depth and questions that ultimately, begin to speak the language of the City.

Sure, independent government tariff changes matter, as do the independent specifics and details of the manufacturer, the operator and the wider supply chain.

However, as solar market developers that want to realise any significant scale have consistently demonstrated, the long term viability of any emerging energy market needs to be lead by those operating on the inside – and not those interested in playing politics.

We often compare and contrast the wind industry with other markets and sectors in our analysis, particularly those from which we feel we can learn.

We’ve looked previously at the automotive and defence industries, to provide a better indication of how mass manufacturing, the use of composite materials and selling to global markets can collectively provide blueprints for those working in wind.

But perhaps we’re guilty of not looking to a market even closer to home?

To an industry that is both clean and compelling, and, that just like wind, has found itself susceptible to the vagaries of Governmental policy, subsidies and support.

We are of course talking about the solar sector – an industry that can provide us all with a few lessons – both in terms of what needs to be avoided and in how to capitalise and exploit on future commercial opportunity.

However, let’s take a step back. For, on the surface, solar suffers a fairly distinctive malaise.

The price of the technology has plummeted; slashing the operating profits of many major manufacturers and forcing developers and investors to look for greater volume in order to retain future profitability.

Add to that an aggressive market acquisition strategy pursued by the Chinese (that in the past twelve months has led to many of its more established players selling panels for a fraction of the true price of production) and you’ve got an almost instant global market on your hands.

Panels have been produced and shipped into North America and Western Europe at an alarmingly fast rate and developers have been inundated with cheap, efficient technology in which to deploy, operate and invest.

And while the EU Commission continues to explore the longer-term implications of dumping hundreds of thousands of low-cost solar panels into the market – suddenly the wider market has opened itself up to a steady stream of new developers and investors, eager to capitalise on the boom and to cash in.

However, despite the initial market euphoria, local economies and policymakers already starting to wise up.

Cost effective grid connections are becoming an increasing challenge, permitting issues have become progressively more complex and while early ground has been gained, as projects scale up, suddenly that initial momentum starts to slow.

Indeed, as the solar energy market matures – and interest and attention in the market grows – suddenly this once entrepreneurial clean energy market has to start answering tough questions.

Questions that demonstrate greater accountability, that demonstrate greater energy market understanding and depth and questions that ultimately, begin to speak the language of the City.

Sure, independent government tariff changes matter, as do the independent specifics and details of the manufacturer, the operator and the wider supply chain.

However, as solar market developers that want to realise any significant scale have consistently demonstrated, the long term viability of any emerging energy market needs to be lead by those operating on the inside – and not those interested in playing politics.

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Not a member yet?

Become a member of the 6,500-strong A Word About Wind community today, and gain access to our premium content, exclusive lead generation and investment opportunities.