Monday, January 30, 2012

Solar & More – Recent Perspectives

By Joe Salimando
Salimando is a Fairfax, Virginia-based writer and contributor to energysolutions.necanet.orgeleblog.com, and tedmag.com.
Reach him at
ecdotcom@gmail.com

1. Gordon Johnson, 14 months ago, predicted “Armageddon” for the solar industry. Of course, as you might have heard: Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

However, here’s what Johnson says now: The solar slump is over. So reported Bloomberg.com.

2. Thanks to our review of Johnson’s call, we know that the solar biz seemed awful (for some, anyway) in 2011. Yet Bloomberg New Energy Finance (a unit separate from the news-reporting segment of that company) said 2011 saw record investment figures for clean energy.

Huh?

Note the headline especially: “Solar Surge Drives Record . . . “

3. More power will come from the renewable sector (although not that much more). Here’s the lead (with a graphic) from another BNEF release:

“The annual value of renewable energy capacity installed will double in real terms to $395bn in 2020, rising to $460bn in 2030, compared with $195bn in 2010.”

“As a result, in 20 years’ time 15.7% of total energy production will come from renewable sources (including large hydro), up from 12.6% last year.”

4. Green advocates are often accused of being off in la-la land with their thinking, their assumptions about the future . . . even their facts. But here are a few smack-in-the-face sentences from David Roberts, a writer for the greenish site Grist.org:

“Non-hydro renewables remain a small part of the U.S. energy story. More to the point, the sexy renewables — solar, wind, and geothermal — are a rounding error. Of the total energy consumed in the U.S. in 2010, solar was 0.1 percent and wind was 0.9 percent.”

Bolding in the original. The article covers the 2010 Renewable Energy Data Book, a release from the National Renewable Energy Lab.

5. If you’re unfamiliar with residential “group” buying of solar products . . . well, maybe you need to be less unfamiliar. A quick read is offered in this Pike Research blog, which covers 1BOG (One Block Off The Grid) and a few other programs.

Of special interest to NECA contractors – who operate in their hometowns and regions, and are known (and reliable) entities in these places – might be this:

“1BOG concentrates its efforts (and consequently, group buying discounts) in specific, geographically bounded markets.  Similarly, community co-ops do the same by virtue of their association-based models.”

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