Another Major Player Exits the Solar Panel Market

by | Aug 9, 2013 | Industrial Energy & Onsite Utilities, Industry, Power Generation

Jim Cahill

Chief Blogger, Editor

There are bargains to be had in solar panels. Emerson’s Alan Novak, Director Mining and Power Industries, explains the shakeout underway for manufacturers.

Emerson's Alan NovakAs reported in an August 6th Wall Street Journal article, GE Ends Solar-Panel Push, Sells Technology to First Solar, General Electric (GE) announced that it has sold its solar panel manufacturing business to First Solar. First Solar is also facing challenges with profits down 70% for the year.

This follows a similar announcement by solar panel maker Siemens on June 18th indicating they were closing their last solar division after a seven-month search for a buyer.

Falling panel prices have been great for consumers, with prices projected to keep dropping for the foreseeable future:

Source: TheSolarco.com, What Affects the Price of Solar Panels?, http://jimc.me/15R87Bs

But this is not as beneficial for manufacturers trying to establish themselves in this market.

The falling price of panels has had unintended consequences. A number of governments put significant subsidies in place to encourage the development of solar power when panel prices were high. Now that the cost of the panels has dropped, installations have dramatically increased, resulting in increasing subsidy payments. Both Germany and Japan, who were some of the most aggressive solar supporters, have announced plans to reduce solar subsidies.

With reduced subsidies, the rate of installation quickly adjusts:

Source: Whiteboardmag.com, Energy: this graph shows that Germany doesn’t love solar anymore, http://jimc.me/15R96Sn

What does the future hold for the solar power market? Only time will tell.

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