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The solar industry has to make changes if the cleantech market is to rebound

The cleantech revolution continues to be a popular catch phrase among politicians and eco-friendly folks, but recent trends indicate the growing industry faces stiff challenges as 2011 slowly winds down.

The solar industry faces a drastic problem after numerous companies jumped into the industry that wasn't mature enough to support all of the newcomers. To make matters worse, falling prices are forcing smaller and less prepared companies to sell out to their competitors, and that isn't expected to change in the near future, according to green experts.

"Weaker companies who did not get their product costs down to competitive levels are going to disappear," said Christopher Blansett, JP Morgan Securities analyst, in a statement to Bloomberg. "They'll be bought up. They'll go away. There is significantly more supply of solar modules than demand."

Along with economic issues, University of Tennessee researchers believe lead pollution from solar power creation could dramatically increase. Lead batteries are used to store solar power, and lead pollution could increase in developing nations.

Even with solar energy facing obvious hurdles, the US government still has high hopes for the future of domestic cleantech. However, with cleantech expected to help draw the economy out of a continued slump, lawmakers and the private sector need to work together to find a solution to help cleantech develop -- before these jobs and technology also go overseas to India, China, and other nations investing heavily in solar power.

Despite these problems, there are numerous bright sides to the solar industry as it continues to expand -- the International Energy Agency predicts solar power will produce most of the world's energy power by 2060, and hydropower, wind, and bioenergy fighting over the rest of the industry.

For home owners looking to increase their house values, making the initial investment to install solar panels can lead to higher resale values, according to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers.

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By macca007 on 9/6/2011 6:13:12 AM , Rating: 2
Popping solar panels on the roof is great but a half assed attempt. You could spend less by insulating your house properly and will cut down on your gas/electricity for heating/cooling.
If they truly wanted to cut coal fired electricity or save the planet,They should implement tougher laws on all new houses being built,Instead of this current cheap overpriced shit(houses) just to get everyone buying a home.
All walls/ceilings/floors fully insulated,extra thick double glazed windows,all houses facing north ready for solar,This should become standard,Yet houses have changed stuff all over last 50 odd years,In my view they are getting worse,Thinner materials to cut costs,Notice new houses seem to fall apart these days compared to a solid house decades ago. Solar is still not mainstream, Needs to be half price of what it is before it really kicks off,In the meantime money is better spent elsewhere on small house mods,And if your building a new house go all out and do it properly,Don't cut corners might save you short term but later on you will regret it!

RE: Upgrades
By MrTeal on 9/6/2011 11:45:10 AM , Rating: 3
Houses are built much better these days than they were in the past, at least where I am. The envelope around a new house is much tighter and they're much better insulated, to the point where they need air exchangers to bring fresh hair into the house. Even houses built 40 years ago like mine have so much air loss that an air-air exchanger isn't needed.

If I built a new house I'd probably end up spending 1/2 what I do now on heating, and this is after I've already blown in R50 into the roof, replacing the windows with triple glazed and the wood exterior doors with fiberglass slabs.

RE: Upgrades
By mindless1 on 9/7/2011 4:56:52 AM , Rating: 2
Houses are built cheaper now, less durable in general except a bit more is spent on nicer multi-pane windows which upgrade the look of the house and insulate better, just fit better in general due to improved manufacturing techniques.

While less durable, newer homes are generally better sealed, better insulated. Insulation is relatively cheap.

RE: Upgrades
By johnsmith9875 on 9/15/2011 4:46:42 PM , Rating: 2
A lot of that efficiency has been offset by the preponderance of square footage in newer houses. Mega domiciles and McMansions are just about the norm. In my neighborhood they won't even allow you to build any house smaller than 1800 square feet, and many are 3000-4000+ square feet.

RE: Upgrades
By AlbertE on 9/16/2011 8:57:01 AM , Rating: 2
Tell me about it. My sister has a modular house (probably 10 years old). The shingles were stapled on the roof!

RE: Upgrades
By Dr of crap on 9/13/2011 10:35:32 AM , Rating: 2
You must live in the warm part of the country.
Here in the north country, the insulation in the past 30 years has gotten way better, and as another post says it, the houses here are so tight you need an air exchange system to get the moisture out and let the house breath.
And we don't build here without double glaze windows. Again you must live where it's warm.

Also when there is snow on my roof mounted solar panels, I'll not generate to much power that way! And yes I know the sun does penetrate some, but there are times when a few feet of snow covers the roofs around here.

RE: Upgrades
By johnsmith9875 on 9/15/2011 4:49:47 PM , Rating: 2
Optimizing your house for efficiency is secondary to neighborhood covenants and restrictions. your lot faces a certain way, and you have to build your house facing the street. You only have flexibility if you are lucky enough to have purchased an acreage or are in a spread-out established neighborhood that does not impose building restrictions.

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