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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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Lead Batteries? Say what?
By MrBlastman on 9/6/2011 3:23:50 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
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.


Lead batteries to store power for nighttime/offtime makes me laugh. The very thought of us needing to rely on them is just a bad idea. There are _far_ better solutions to storing power over time in situations like this.

Things like mechanical batteries--i.e. flywheel batteries have been used by power companies for years. NASA uses them, Formula One cars use them, heck even theme parks use them. They don't wear out for decades (assuming you use magnetic bearings), are quick to charge and have high storage efficiencies and capacities.

The fact that most of these solar power systems don't recommend them or sell them to their customers befuddles me. Don't listen to the marketers, there is always something better out there to be had.




RE: Lead Batteries? Say what?
By StanO360 on 9/15/2011 5:09:33 PM , Rating: 2
I used to work in the back up power industry. Flywheels are not wide spread because they merely a bridge UPS, usually less than 5 minutes. While that is usually enough to switch to a gen set, it is riskier than batteries. As back-up power at a microwave or cell site? Batteries. Off the grid? Batteries and if you've got the money ni-cad (worse than lead).

Unless things have radically changed, this can not have changed much.


"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)














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