The End Is Near

 

Having just scanned www.dsireusa.com  for U.S. solar incentives it looks like the incentives for photovoltaic’s are declining fast, for various reasons, but the main one is no money in the coffers of the entities supplying the incentives.

It was also interesting to note how many state and utility incentive programs use or require you to use their preferred suppliers and installers. We were warned about this control and bureaucracy years ago.

It was also interesting to note how many states that have the worst weather, have incentives for photovoltaic’s: New Jersey, New Hampshire, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Washington, and North Dakota.  No one wants to be left out of photovoltaic’s but Buffalo, N.Y.?  It has to seem strange for someone from the Sunbelt.

Internationally the incentives are gone or declining. There are some new ones in Southeast Asia but that is easily supplied by China, I think. There’s one in Ontario, Canada but it is limited to system products made in Ontario and there are almost 0 module manufacturer’s in Ontario. I wonder why.

All of the above are grid-connected systems. It might not happen but it seems logical that without some new catastrophe it will be a catastrophe for the photovoltaic’s market. We have been waiting for it. We have been careful to watch prices to see when the bottom will start to fall out. We have been talking about it for months. Well the U.S. market sucks right now, we have gotten rid of our most of our huge Grade A big name brand modules and over stocked grid connect balance of systems. We’ve had clearance sales, winter clearance sales, extended clearance sales, at below cost clearance sales and now we will probably have another “Clearance of all Unsold Clearance Sale Items Sale”.

The modules we have been purchasing and selling are primarily geared for off-grid systems. It’s funny but most remote home owners, even telecommunication, highway sign, and water pumping companies don’t care about UL or any other certification, they just want the electricity and they have seen that the SUN photovoltaic modules work great and are extremely reliable. Remote home owners are the biggest buyers and believers in our SUN modules,  not just because they are much cheaper than Grade A modules, but because they are the most educated and experienced users of them. They know their reliability and reputation. We have been selling them for over 10 years. See testimonials at www.sunelec.com. We have started collecting their stories and photos. We are hoping to have a couple hundred examples of systems using SUN modules. Our eBay testimonials (positive feedback) number in the thousands.

If we wanted to, we could sell modules like these for 70 cents to 1.50/watt all day long and make a reasonable profit, and we will too if things go bad for off-grid, but off-grid is cost effective from day 1 and without incentives. As my 5 year old son likes to ask “is it for real ?” finally, for solar electric systems, yes, it is real. At a dollar a watt Even better we have about $5M of them in stock, thousands of them all sizes, and from all the same major manufacturers. And, amazingly it’s our warehouse and we aren’t talking about some other warehouse thousands of miles away like almost all internet PV advertisers claim.

We know we have made the right choice from almost 40 years of experience. I have seen the rise and fall of solar many times. If you want to pay twice as much, we have those big name modules that are UL listed and we know we can as get as many of those as you will need for quite some time. However,  I would put my money on a SUN module any day. We believe the off grid market is about to grow allot. Independent minded people who are on the grid and just want to save money will also put in off-grid systems to run certain appliances like the refrigerator on down in wattage. Air conditioners will have to come later, to much draw generally. I say off grid on a grid connected house because it is a fact that to be safe you should use these SUN modules on low voltage systems as the industry has been doing since its inception. 12, 24, and 48 solar arrays connected to the battery bank and then to a 12, 24 or 48 volt inverter to give you 120 or 240 Volt AC Power for selected circuits in your home. Now you have not only a system that will provide emergency backup but also one in which you can claim total independence from the utility company for the majority of the year. As prices come down, efficiency goes up (usually very slowly maybe 1 or 2 tenths a percent a year), or appliances like air conditioners become more efficient, you can go for the 100%.

We have 15 members of Sun Electronics’ design team including electrical and mechanical engineers and an architect working full time. We design systems and  sell and ship them to people all over the world. Business is good. We do not want to see The End of the Photovoltaic’s Grid-Connected Industry or the safety issues compromised we just don’t think people should be limited in their ability. Free use of solar energy is important, and so it’s good to maintain and increase incentives. Putting all sorts of requirements on its use or letting someone or some huge corporations control its use is probably not good for us or for future generations. Go after the big guys who don’t deserve them or need them (some of the most profitable companies in the world with those thousands of lobbyists getting billions in donations to political campaigns) . The Solar Energy Industry Association has like 2 lobbyists, I believe. When it comes to incentives for a clean and holistic green lifestyle for our future, solar fits, we believe. Leave solar development alone, that’s all, we will all pay dearly for it in the end if we don’t, I think.

I realize this has all been said a thousand times before and I really shouldn’t be allowed to do this anymore but as a friend of mine told me in Tucson  37 years ago “someone has to do it so it might as well be you Kimball”.

Solar Panels Getting Less Expensive Every Day

We are waiting till we feel we are sure we are getting the absolute best possible price before we buy containers. We are buying only what we know we can sell very fast. We intend to put a low low margins on all of it and just try to match the tide of the market as it goes out. We don’t want to be left on land so to speak. Today we heard a report that by this time next year many factories will be closing and even then the price will continue to erode as inventories will be dumped because they will have no buyers.\n\nWhile it may happen we know from experience that it won’t be long till the market bounces back, it always has for the last 60 years. Even solar water heating almost disappeared in the late 70’s I think. Anyway its like every other business, only Sun has been holding onto too much inventory.Continue reading

How Much The Oil Industry gets Every Year In Tax Credits

Report Coming From Sun Showing How Much The Oil Industry gets Every Year In Tax Credits.\n\nWe thought it would be interesting to see the comparison between solar and oil. Next we will do Tax Credits For The Coal Industry, then nuclear. So far it looks like $8 Billion a year just for the Oil Industry.

How To Save Energy

Open Up Your Windows And Turn Off The AC. It’s Winter Time In South Florida You Idiots. First of all that includes me. I’ve told this story before but it’s that time of year again in Florida.\n\nI was up late watching TV and came across some Government Channel where a bunch of guys were sitting around in $5,000 chairs giving out our tax money for energy saving projects. One by one people came up with their giant corporate projects, Wind Generators and Solar Systems, Electric Cars and Buses or factories to build them. All of them wanted millions. Then this guy and his wife got up and suggested an advertising campaign aimed at getting people to open their windows. Think of how many condo owners never open their windows in the winter here. They run the AC 24 hours a day 365 days a year. My wife is one of them, so is my office, Unless I make this simple change happen by getting up off my ass and opening the damn windows or doors. In larger buildings like our office we add fans and control the ventilation by opening and closing certain doors and windows. Watch out for the slamming doors though, very obnoxious but just make the adjustments.\n\nYou don’t have to tell me the arguments why not, burglars, kids, pets, alligators, raccoons, insects, the summer heat and humidity  these are good ones but they only cover a small fraction of the condos.. Yeah you need AC all summer but not from Dec. to March at least. It’s a great idea for a a lot more and very obvious reasons.\n\nPeople don’t like change, me included, but I have always said you can used to anything, even prison, it just takes a few days and you will stop complaining. You can even stop eating, and smoking, its just the first couple of steps and the pain subsides. It’s been said a million times so I will just shut up.\n\nOne last thing. I am sitting here now with my doors open watching the sunrise, its Dec. 1st,  I think. The AC is broken and the fresh air coming in feels great. The Christmas tree branches are moving in the wind.. I am on the 14th floor facing the ocean it’s perfect. That guy and his wife were so right on. Their idea didn’t get chosen of course. The guys who “donated” the most to their campaign’s probably did and the money has been spent and no one knows what happened or cares probably. This is the first day so far this year I’ve opened up the sliding glass doors and its because I had to.\n\nOh yeah and another thing, once when I lived in Phoenix I was late on the bill and the utility turned off my power so just for fun I decided to see how long I could last. It was summer so the main thing was sleeping. I just grabbed my bed and moved it outside into the backyard. They nights the sky was clear, heat would radiate into the sky, its called something like black body radiation, anyway I had to go inside and and get a blanket. In the summer it gets up into the 120’s in Phoenix. I grew up in Tucson with a swamp cooler or evaporative cooler there for my whole life. Anyway this black body thing worked real well as long as you didn’t forget a blanket otherwise you were too cold!\n

Solar water heating panels

\nIn the olden days before air conditioning people would have sleeping porches or move their beds outside. I read once where you could see this happening every summer night on the streets in Phoenix.\n\nSolar water heating panels can freeze if its a clear night and the temperature is still a few degrees above freezing. I will Google it and find out more.\n\nJohn

Thanksgiving Was Great, What About Haiti Though?

Were blowing it and we know it. It’s easy to forget and we must not forget Mercy and Sharing in Haiti. The parking lot of  Sun Electronics will become a collection point again . There is no need to go into detail except that 1500 people have died so far and thousands are infected with Cholera. www.haitichildren.com has all the details about the thousands of kids they are taking care of and the beautiful photos of the safe and healthy kids is a great relief to see.\n\nWe will send a request for them to give us a list of what they need. Don’t worry we won’t ask you to donate anything. We have been fairly successful getting enough supplies from the people in Miami. Look for a report soon on our progress to fill another container. (I think they about 30,000 people still living in tents and many people have moved back into their old houses, not good. But I can understand . Wouldn’t you. It’s time to pray for them at the least. Why do they have such bad luck? They really are a polite and kind people, if you have ever met a Haitian I am sure you would agree.\n\nJohn

Projections for Solar Growth Are Excellent

That’s the word that’s going around. The decrease in  incentives, especially in Germany the worlds largest consumer, is the primary cause. However about a 30% increase is still expected in module sales. Every year people always say the market is going to sink in the next year. We have done our share of talking too much about solar’s economics being so dependent on incentives and warning people but I have changed my mind.\n\nThere is so much more to think about than economics. The production of nuclear waste, the ongoing destruction of the environment, dependence on foreign oil, the depletion of oil supplies and the effects of air pollution and changes with our climate are a few good examples.\n

Working in solar

\nIn nearly 40 years of working in solar I have never seen it do anything other than get better every single year. We have always believed in being fearless and going “all in” went it comes to buying every good deal that comes our way for PV modules or BOS. We have never done anything except grow and gain from this approach with solar. The cost of manufacturing has not come down much from one year to the next but the cumulative effect of  approx. a quarter percent increase a year in module efficiency a year for the last 25 years and the increase of electrical costs form a symbiotic relationship that guarantees solar success to reaching wide spread cost effectiveness within a decade as long as we in the industry just keep working fearlessly and aggressively.\n

PV industry

\nRecently someone asked me if we were going out of business because of the low prices we were selling at in our current winter clearance sale. I assured them I will be working for solar till I drop dead.  I have been working in the PV industry before a single Megawatt system had been installed. It was my passion then and it’s my passion now. I feel exactly the same as I did about it 37 years ago. As long as I have a roof over my head and food on the table I think I could do it forever it has so much promise for mankind and everyone can get involved. It’s not rocket science. Everyone who has a solar home has a solar story. Most people love to hear about them. Solar energy breeds passions that are much higher than a nuclear breeder does. That’s why solar next year will grow again and that’s why the incentives will continue because every day people are beginning to see that money spent by our government for solar is a drop in the bucket compared to government spending to support the Nuclear and Fossil Fuel industry.\n

Solar Energy

\nWithout any doubt solar energy deserves the same support from our government as it has from the people certainly as much if not more than the oil industry which is the most profitable industry in the world, I believe. The world loves solar energy and so does America. I think next year we might see lower profits unless Germany and Spain makes an adjustment and maintain the incentives they offered last year. It could happen . It would not surprise me in the slightest especially after they see how many jobs that were created and how much infrastructure will be lost. It would be typical solar energy and its affect on people everywhere   .

Lots of Distributors On The Internet Don’t Have Warehouses

They make their ads and web sites look like they have big warehouses and they have nothing. They take orders then just  find other suppliers to drop ship it. It’s ok but we don’t do that.\n\nI’ve never seen pictures of any big warehouses full of inventory on the website of Wholesale Solar, SolarHome, Affordable Solar, AltE, or any of the other companies advertising hundreds of products “IN STOCK AND READY TO SHIP NOW!”. As far as I know we are the only ones who do. At least the others don’t show it if they do and that seems like a pretty important thing you would want to know. There are a lot of companies out there that are nothing but computers.

What is the difference between Grade A and B Modules?

Basically NOTHING if its a name brand PV Module.\n\nElectrically (they use the same factory specification sheet), output wise (the generate the same flash test results), life time (the same 30 to 40 years or longer), certification (the same UL, ETL, CE the mfr. normally gives), warranty (the same 20 to 25 years the same as they normally give).\n

B Modules

\nSome B Modules may have a couple of tiny insignificant cosmetic blemishes generally invisible from several feet away. Most are not visible at all.\n\nYou can look on our web site and see a typical example of a blemish. www.sunelec.com

What If All The Solar Business Failed?

Maybe this would happen: Everywhere you looked people are trying to get rid of stock as fast as they can. All those factories in China, Germany, Japan are closing left and right. They could not sell their stock not even at $1.30/watt because all the supports were withdrawn. Solar had to compete against .10/watt utility power.\n\nI kind of saw this happen once. Because of a poorly written piece of legislation everyone in the State of New Mexico could have as many free $10,000 solar water pumping systems they wanted. You just had to pay 1 cent of taxes and you were qualified. You had to get your system ‘so blueprints approved with a stamp by an engineer with the state energy office and he loved to do it. He was a big supporter of PV. It took them about 6 months to rewrite the legislation to end it and all these systems in downtown Albuquerque got torn down and moved out to the hills where they made perfect sense on off grid independent homes and buildings.\n

Grid tied systems

\nSo maybe this would happen. the panels installed on grid tied systems as well as the modules that could not be sold because of oversupply would migrate towards these areas as well. It would be a boom for off grid living and land developers in rural areas where no power existed. In the mountains, foothills and on islands solar would flourish like never before. Non profit organizations providing assistance to areas in need might find a lot of help for their schools, clinics, orphanages, etc. as well.\n\nI saw a map of the world one time with thousands of tiny people painted in. Most of them were huddled in offices, cars and the military and those areas were about half the earth’s surface. Those areas were all grey, and brown but on the edges of the earth where it was nice and green still where all these other people who were enjoying life so much more than the other people who were going crazy dealing with greed, lust, fame, war, etc. Some of them were actually using solar panels out there I think.\n

Solar Panels

\nAt .50 and .75/watt solar panels would provide plenty of cheap electricity for years to come. Maybe its about time to start thinking about moving out of the city. I hear Panama is nice, the Bahamas, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Colorado, Polynesia, Australia…\n\nThen after the next big disaster like a couple of super tanker spills off of Cal. and Florida and/or an oil embargo or other nightmare where there isn’t any more gasoline for no one knows how long all the funding for solar will come back into fashion and they can rebuild all those power plants reenact all the financial incentives and you can come back and get another system so you can fly back and forth from the city to go to movie theaters, grocery stores, shopping malls, golf courses, sports events and fast cars and great restaurants.