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Putting Competition to the Test in Renewable Energy

One of the solar’s largest trade shows is being held in San Francisco July 9-12, 2012.  The Intersolar North America exhibition and conference for solar professionals to exchange information and develop business opportunities in the U.S. solar market may turn into a large job fair.  The problem is like the solar industry itself there may be an oversupply of people looking for solar work.  It has been tough year for the solar industry. The theme of the conference reflects that new reality---come …Continue Reading »

The Skunk at the Solar Lawn Party

Bloomberg New Energy Finance held a workshop presentation of its Q2:2012 outlook for photovoltaic panels that has attracted a lot of attention.  The story of about the story at this presentation became itself a story in Forbes when the workshop slides were leaked to Forbes by BNEF who then complained when Forbes used them.  DUH! Not only did BNEF hold the workshop in China but it had the temerity to tell the audience that it would take until at least 2014 to work off the supply glut of PV …Continue Reading »

Trade Fights and Politics

It was no surprise that China responded to the US decision to impose countervailing tariff duties on sale of imported photovoltaic panels from China.  We expected more of a tit for tat action sticking it to some US interest in China in roughly equal proportion to the insult of the duties imposed by the US.  Maybe China is waiting for maximum impact before it yells GOTCHA!  Like an October surprise designed to drive President Obama crazy, China is capable of imposing countervailing pressure. The …Continue Reading »

Do Anti-Dumping Duties on China PV Panels Make Any Sense?

Source: IDC PV Panel Installations

“Low Prices, Always Low Prices” that is the tag line of one of the world’s largest retailers. That may be why Wal-Mart is one of the world’s largest retailers. But when it comes to solar photovoltaic panels made in China the price is too low according to the US Government because the Chinese government is subsidizing them. This is the same US government that also subsidizes solar panels to make the prices----errr---lower! In 2011 the US public bought more than $3.1 billion in solar photovoltaic …Continue Reading »

Pure Essence of the Laws of Physics

Instantaneous, in perfect balance, universal---those are characteristics of the electric power grid.  Imagine anything else in your life with such exacting standards.  No, I am not talking about your honey--do list! More than 100 years after we learned to harness the laws of physics to create light, power machinery, and put it to work to grow our economy the power grids have operated much the same.  Yes, we have more powerful machines.  We learned to move power over longer distances.  We have …Continue Reading »

Put America’s 'Spare' Oil Productive Capacity to Work

Global oil prices are driven by a ‘rule of thumb’ that suggests prices will go up when the spare capacity of oil available on any given day is less than 5% of expected global demand.  In today’s high priced oil market that swing in spare capacity is about 2%. This a big deal because traders worry about risk such as events in the Middle East, or with Iran or any other places that supplies oil.  Spare capacity or swing productive capacity is the volume of oil than can be delivered as a percentage …Continue Reading »

The ‘Death Rattle’ of Carbon Policy

In both the EU and the US carbon policy correctness has run its course having been discredited by scandal, the persistence of scientific method, and public pressure to recognize market realities. The proponents of carbon policy changes are caught between panic and despair. They came so close to implementing their policy regimes, and cannot now accept that the world has said ‘No!’ The evidence of the death rattle of carbon policy has been presenting itself for a while but like a degenerative …Continue Reading »

Solar Goldilocks Symbolism in Tariff Decision

Not too big.  Not too small.  It was just right! That seems to be the key takeaway from the decision by the US Government to impose import duties on China solar panels ranging from 2.9 percent to 4.73 percent to match the level of government subsidies received by the Chinese manufacturers.  The US International Trade Commission issued a preliminary ruling in December that the US PV manufacturing industry had been harmed by Chinese subsidy practices, but the decision issued March 20th quantified …Continue Reading »

Setting the Stage for Change: Big Picture Energy Trends

Technology and global competition are profoundly impacting our energy future.  The evidence is all around us in wind and solar energy advances, horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing creating a new North American oil and gas boom market, and the technologies driving smart grid, microgrids, and constant energy management. What are the forces of change taking place in energy today? Global competition for energy resources from emerging economies like China Struggle over energy policy and …Continue Reading »

Low Prices Always Low Prices

Low prices always low prices is the slogan taken by China’s wind and solar PV panel manufacturers.  It describes their global market strategy of flooding the market with equipment, driving down prices as a result of that glut and suctioning up feed in tariffs and other subsidies to help finance China’s export production growth.  For a while it was a winning strategy.  Then the US and EU players caught onto the game forced to act by rising deficits and rising costs of subsidies rationalizing the …Continue Reading »