Solyndra Shows that Solar Industry is Thriving

17 Sep 2011 3:39 PM | Anonymous

Solyndra, the California-based solar-panel maker, recently filed for bankruptcy.  This event was used by the media to announce the end of solar technology, which couldn’t be farther from the truth.  The solar industry is thriving more than ever before.

 The attention is understandable, as Solyndra received a $535M loan from the Department of Energy in 2009.  In the scheme of loan guarantees, though, this only accounted for 1.2% of the total $38.6B loan guarantees issued by DOE (read more).  And being the only of these companies to file for bankruptcy, the attention should not be focused on the energy-loan guarantee program.  Solyndra remains the exception to the rule (read more).

 With that being said, what happened to Solyndra?  Simply put, solar is getting cheaper and cheaper.  Specifically, silicon is getting less expensive.  Companies, such as Solyndra, whose business models require a higher price, are unable to keep up with the competition (read more).  When Solyndra began, silicon was the dominant raw material for PVs.  As the solar market here and in Europe took off, there were silicon shortages, and it became expensive.  As solar-grade silicon was never demanded before in such high quantities, the supply did not yet exist and prices went up (read more).  Most solar companies invested their time and energy into alternative solar methods.  Solyndra , among other companies such as Nanosolar, Miasole, HelioVolt, received millions of venture capital dollars to look for other non-silicon solar methods.

  As one would expect, silicon prices have since tumbled.  Therefore, Solyndra’s  $2/Watt technology was unable to compete against $1/Watt silicon PV.    In fact, the solar industry has reduced the cost of solar by 70% since 2009!  This increase in competition and reduction in cost proves that solar is a growing market.  It is more affordable than ever for consumers to invest in solar.  “As of June, California utilities have signed over 8 GW of solar contracts…half of which are below the price of new natural gas generation.  That’s right – “gigawatts of solar cheaper than the fossil fuel alternatives.” (Read more).  While Solyndra closing is not a positive event in itself, it represents the growing market of solar power and the renewable energy field!  Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to stay up to date on Solyndra and other renewable energy news!

Webinar Q&A

Q: There is a 2% limit on rate increases. Are you sure this is not a problem? The rate increase is in reference to the total procurement, so we do not anticipate it being an issue.


Q: I am a homeowner. Your invitation stated you may have some new information concerning Gov. Rauner's budget. That's what I'm particularly interested in. The proposed budget for 2015/2016, at this time has eliminated rebates and grants. ISEA’s position is that we will continue to advocate for the continuation of this program. There is also a legislative bill that has proposed an extension to this program through 2020 which we support and will continue to track.


Q: Can you provide an REC typical value for an average sized home with this proposed declining block program? I have a hard time explaining the value of RECs. Since Illinois has not had a REC price in the past, it’s difficult to estimate what the initial market value may be. The supplemental procurement will go a long way in establishing Illinois REC market prices. In the meantime, the Illinois Power Agency (IPA) will continue to research other markets to make the best decisions for the Illinois market. The goal, of course, is to install solar, and the purpose of the REC is to incentivize solar purchases and ensure pricing makes economic sense. As a reminder, there’s still a bit of the process left before we see what price RECs will have in Illinois. Once the legislation has been passed, and the REC price is published, we’ll update as needed.


Q: What recs are available for people who installed solar systems in 2014? If the system was energized prior to January 21, 2015, you qualify for the regular procurement event in September 2015.


Q: Does Exelon nuclear energy qualify as renewable energy with the 35% by 2030? It does not. Renewable energy is defined within the statute and includes wind, solar, and biofuels. More information can be found at http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/fulltext.asp?DocName=&SessionId=88&GA=99&DocTypeId=HB&DocNum=2607&GAID=13&LegID=88134&SpecSess=&Session=

It is important to note that the Clean Jobs Bill, not to be confused with other energy bills, is the only bill that focuses on renewable energy while producing 32000 jobs per year.


Q: Will clean energy that has already been produced from existing systems be considered for auction? No. The RECs will only be from the contract date of the accepted bid moving forward.


Q: If I plan to install more solar panels in 2015, are IL rebates still available, or is it dependent on Governor Rauner's budget proposal? The program for the 2014/2015 fiscal year is closed. So any future rebate availability will depend on the budget proposal. However, consider the procurement events of 2015/2016 as potential funding sources.  This scenario strongly highlights why we need to pass the Clean Jobs Bill (HB2607/SB1485) as it will provide a way to raise the status of renewable energy to equal that of all other forms of energy. Thus, any perceived dependence on rebates and grants will be removed.


Q: Evidently the 2014/20­15 rebates were frozen. Is that still the case? At this time, rebate decision letters have gone out, clarifying which will be paid and informing the owners that no further extensions will be granted.


Q: When will the specific process of solar customers contracting to be paid for future SRECs in place of the Illinois DCEO Rebate program be rolled out?­ The first supplemental procurement will be June 18, 2015. Aggregators are already available. We have a list of preferred companies here http://www.illinoissolar.org/SRECTrade-FAQ


Q: Once the REC schedule is defined, can you post some investment payback time scenarios on the ISEA blog, including the declining block ­ to let people know what is a realistic investment outlook?

We will try, however, we don’t anticipate seeing any information on this until early to mid 2016.



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