The last decades weren’t really successful for the market of solar energy. The next few years, more than a dozen young companies will make plans to build new solar projects in the desert of the South-West. These projects will make it possible to power more than 1.25 million homes.
California will introduce new standards that require utilities to generate 20% of their electricity from renewable sources by next year. There is also an investment of 30% tax credit for solar projects. So, the solar companies are smelling their chance to get new projects underway.
Most of these upcoming projects will use new technologies of which they can’t prove if they're reliable to produce cheap power. Normally, solar energy is mainly used by photovoltaics on the rooftop to produce a few kilowatts to power a home or business, but now it has to be able to power organisations for some megawatts. The question is if this will be possible.
The government will do large efforts: tax credits and other subsidies. This all in order to build the new projects and to become a price that’s as close as possible to what utilities pay for electricity from gas-fired turbines (15cents per kilowatt hour).
The solar companies are employing a variety of designs, some of which are a collection of photovoltaic cells that turn the sun’s energy directly into electricity. Others will use concentrating solar power designs by using mirrors to focus light on one single point to boil water and create steam to drive conventional turbines.
All these several designs create a battle of who will be the leader in technology. They all have to be aware of the financial limit to start a new project, and maybe it will be necessary to fight among themselves in order to create a technological hegemony.
In my opinion the raise of demand to solar energy is definitely a good thing. First of all, the environment will become better to live in. Secondly, it will decrease the expenses of the companies towards energy. The question if solar energy can supply a company is really a good question I think. Here in Belgium, we only use solar energy on our rooftop to get energy for our houses, but we can’t compare that amount of energy to a big industrial company. A reason why the market of solar energy is getting more and more important is because of the efforts of government. Here in Belgium, you get tax credits too when you buy photovoltaics. The purchase isn’t cheap but we can reclaim a considerable part. And if you take the difference in prices of other energy sources, you will get a large profit in the end!The competition between the different solar companies is modal phenomenon. Each company wants his own design, his own way of thinking and producing energy, just like every brand of cars has it’s own identity. I don’t think they have to create a hegemony but let every company free to invent their projects!
Posted by Joachim De Zutter