Impending US Solar Energy Crash?

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Financially troubled solar businesses seem to be hitting the headlines a lot these days.

Solar Industry Slowdown Catches Up With SolarCity

By Mrinalini Krishna | May 5, 2017 — 11:04 AM EDT

After nice stretch of sunny weather, the last few months have clouded over for big solar. Declining prices for photovoltaic cells are hurting panel manufacturers and stressing solar installation businesses. This situation was in sharp relief this week in Tesla’s (TSLA) earnings, as its solar installation business, SolarCity, disclosed a big slowdown in builds. SolarCity commands 41 percent of the residential solar installation market, according to GTM. In its latest earnings, the firm revealed that it had installed 150 MW of panels in the first quarter, down nearly 39 percent y/y.

There are companies that are doing well. First Solar (FSLR) just reported strong earnings while Vivint Solar (VSLR) announced is expansion into Rhode Island and is expected to announce financial results next week. However, the list of struggling companies in the sector is longer.

SunPower Corp. (SPWR) reported its sixth consecutive quarter of losses and laid off 25 percent of its workforce. Verengo Solar filed for bankruptcy last year, while Sungevity and Suninva did the same earlier this year.

Read more: Solar Industry Slowdown Catches Up With SolarCity

United Power acquires former home of bankrupt Abound Solar

By Doug Storum — May 2, 2017

LONGMONT — Brighton-based United Power Inc., has acquired the former home of Abound Solar Inc., in east Longmont for $8.8 million, according to public records.

9586 LLC, an entity registered to Boulder-based real estate firm W.W. Reynolds Cos., sold the 130,117-square-foot facility on 7.6 acres at 9586 E. I-25 Frontage Road just south of Colorado Highway 119 in Weld County. The building has been vacant while an effort to remove hazardous waste left behind by Abound was tied up in insurance claims court.

Abound Solar went bankrupt in 2012 after receiving stimulus money from the federal government.

Read more:

Some solar businesses have resorted to begging President Trump for import duty protection against cheaper foreign imports.

Suniva Creates the Latest Solar Debacle

Written by Anne Fischer 28 April 2017

Suniva filed for bankruptcy protection on 17 April, and then nine days later filed a trade case mechanism with the International Trade Commission (ITC) to try to impose tariffs and to set minimum prices on all imported solar modules. This would add tariffs to those already imposed on Chinese modules.

Who is Suniva?

Suniva is based near Atlanta, Georgia and has manufacturing facilities in Georgia and Michigan. On its website, the company claims to be the “leading American manufacturer of high-efficiency, cost-competitive PV solar cells and modules.” (Suniva is majority owned by a Chinese company, Shunfeng International Clean Energy.)

In the past two years, as prices on solar modules dropped and demand decreased due to oversupply, Suniva was losing millions. Ultimately the company filed for bankruptcy, placing blame on Chinese manufactures who flooded the US market with cheap imports.

Why file Section 201?

Suniva’s filing a petition under section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974 is a condition of its bankruptcy. If the ITC determines that Suniva was “seriously injured” by solar imports, it can recommend to the Trump administration provide relief to Suniva in the form of tariffs on all imports in order to curb competition from manufacturers in any country other than the United States. Suniva sees this as an effort to get back into business with American-made modules.

Read more:

To anyone who thinks that President Trump is the cause of the solar slump, its interesting to note the wave of solar bankruptcies began well before Donald Trump won the presidency. Aside from the spectacular failure of Solyndra, another big US solar business SunEdison declared bankruptcy in April 2016.

In the Market for a Solar Farm? SunEdison Has Some for Sale, Cheap

The spectacular failure of what was once the world’s biggest renewable-energy company has turned into a smorgasbord of wind and solar farms being gobbled up by infrastructure investors, clean-power developers and even a vegan soccer team.

Since filing the largest U.S. bankruptcy of 2016, SunEdison Inc. has hosted the biggest-ever sale of renewables assets. It’s shed at least $1 billion of assets from Southern California to Chile to India– some through record-breaking deals–including projects that would have died without new owners. With wind and solar supplying more than 11% of global electricity, the company’s debt-induced collapse enabled competitors to strengthen their existing hands or enter new markets.

“Developers have been picking at the carcass,” Nathan Serota, a New York-based analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said in an interview. “As it turns out, the carcass was not so bad.”

Read more:

It is difficult to know for sure whether this apparent upswing in solar bankruptcy stories is significant.

What seems plain is that solar businesses, at least those which manufacture solar systems, are being squeezed between a flood of cheap cheap imports and cooling federal government enthusiasm for subsidising solar energy.

I believe the suggestions that China are dumping solar on the US market are credible – though if China wants to save the world by subsidising cheap solar for everyone, who are we to say no?

It is not all bleak news for US solar investors. despite federal indifference, there are still rich US states like California, whose legislature seems keen to continue pouring public money into the bottomless renewables money pit.

How long states like California can continue to ignore economic competition from low cost states is a different matter.

258 thoughts on “Impending US Solar Energy Crash?

  1. “Impending US Solar Energy Crash?”
    Doesn’t sound like a crash for solar energy. It sounds like “if China wants to save the world by subsidising cheap solar for everyone, who are we to say no?”. Bad time for US manufacturers, good time for US buyers. Sounds familiar?

    • Nick, Nick, Nick,

      SolarCity commands 41 percent of the residential solar installation market, according to GTM. In its latest earnings, the firm revealed that it had installed 150 MW of panels in the first quarter, down nearly 39 percent y/y.

      • Solar City won’t even tell you what the in to out efficiency of their solar panels is.
        Why should I rent my roof space to anybody but the most efficient panel makers ??
        You Tellum Chasmod !

      • What doesn’t make sense to me is rooftop solar, at least on an efficiency basis. Which makes me wonder how Solar City reports such rosy results, which I can only conclude is the subsidy component. Take away the subsidy and the whole thing is bankrupt. Not to mention the grid instability and back up spinning reserve that everyone pays for on their power bill and tax bill.
        Maybe some day if solar shingles etc are just cheap enough, then maybe they can work with no subsidy and also be part of the roof, therefore saving some money in the cost of the house construction. I have no real problem with Net Metering, the only caveat is don’t make everyone else pay for it. Like subsidizing a $100K Telsa Roadster for some Silicon Valley exec. If it weren’t for subsidies, the solar industry probably wouldn’t exist, but if it can someday thrive without any subsidy, then that is when it should have been built out.
        The only solar that maybe makes sense is dedicated tracking in a near desert environment with 90% up time with no clouds at 40 degrees latitude or further south. Still fairly low efficiency as compared to name plate capacity.

      • My electric bill runs $70.00 per month; why for any reason but extremely expensive virtue-signalling would I spend $70,000.00 to put ugly solar panels on my roof? Oh, the tax credits. Only rich people, you understand, are paying enough taxes to make that worthwhile. So subsidizing this racket is really about taking taxpayer money and poorer electric grid subscriber money and re-routing it to people who don’t need subsidies. BTW, Elon Musk really stepped in it when he bought SolarCity to add to money-losing Tesla; drop the subsidies for both luxury electric cars and luxury rooftop green virtue, and he’s going to crash and burn like the Hindenburg. Obviously, his business model depended on Hillary winning the election.

      • My house is run off of solar. No grid tie. Panels are around a buck a watt. I’ve got 1600 watts or so – rated that at least. This system works just fine if I only use a few kilowatts a day and the sun shines.
        As to subsidized grid tied solar? That will always be a joke. An expensive one at that unless there comes a time when batteries are a whole lot better. Cover the roof with cheap panels and store the juice. Maybe that way it won’t destabilize the grid. Maybe. Except for boutique installations like mine this is all greenie bs. Some version of nuclear is the obvious solution and has been for decades. Get on with it.

      • Declining prices for photovoltaic cells are hurting panel manufacturers and stressing solar installation businesses.
        HUH? How does falling supply costs hurt solar installers? Sounds like whoever wrote that is spinning the facts to fit their preconceived bias. Must be on of those ‘alternative facts’.

      • Remember that Solar City’s selling pitch is that you don’t have to buy ANY solar panels.
        They won’t sell them to you. And you wouldn’t buy them, even if they would sell them to you, because they are not very efficient. So they don’t need to tell you what the efficiency is, because you aren’t buying them, and you aren’t even renting them.
        Solar city is borrowing your roof space, for nothing, to collect a small fraction of YOUR solar energy, and they will sell you electricity they gather from your own solar energy on your own roof, and they will charge you LESS that PG&E will charge you, and when Solar city is gathering YOUR solar energy and making electricity that you don’t need to be using at the time, Solar City is selling YOUR solar energy to PG&E, for which you get nothing.
        What could go wrong with this picture.
        So you don’t own ANY solar panels, so YOU don’t get ANY Federal or State subsidy for the solar panels that are cluttering up your roof, and maybe making it a fire hazard.
        Sola city is getting the subsidies themselves since they own the panels on YOUR roof.
        So YOU are subsidizing Solar City, so they can put THEIR panels on YOUR roof for free, and sell you your own energy for a small discount on what PG&E would charge you.
        Well I would rent MY roof to Solar City, on the basis of 1kWm^-2 peak ground level insolation, and they can make as little electricity as they like, with their inefficient panels, and THEY can sell ALL of it to PG&E for what they can get; I’m not interested.
        And Solar City can provide me with an insurance policy guaranteeing to repair or replace, ANY damage to my property arising because SC has THEIR solar panels oon MY property gathering some of MY solar energy.

    • Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy, as far as I am concerned.
      So if distributed solar can’t make a profit without taxpayer subsidies, at fire sale Chinese dumping prices, how will it make a profit for Domestic American Companies, and without taxpayers as shareholders without portfolio ??
      Just asking.

      • Don’t you reckon that there must be profitable economic enterprises who are being powered by profitable electrical generation (powered mostly by fossil fuels) if there is to be money available to provide subsidies for the otherwise unprofitable, non-competitive renewable electrical energy producers such as wind and solar.
        We may be able to continue to pretend that money magically springs forth from a magic hole in the air somewhere in the environs of The Federal Reserve for a little bit longer, but that fantasy is due to “crash and burn” without warning. Then there will be hurtin’ for certain.

      • The Federal Reserve
        the so called federal reserve is nothing of the sort. it is a privately owned institution that the treasury department borrows the money from to print the US dollar.

    • And yet China builds coal plants, while selling wind turbines and solar panels to the US. Production of solar components is so environmentally polluting that it’s impossible in the US, or in most of the developed world.
      Once the subsidies go away, as eventually they must, the multi-trillion dollar sc@m will finally collapse. And the birds and bats will rejoice. Hundreds of millions of them have been animal sacrifices to the CACA gods, as indeed, tragically have been millions of humans, mostly children.

      • China is also employing solar wherever it can. Like most places, it sees the best application is in micro usage: Homes, warehouse lighting, AC, street lights and emergency signals. These smaller towns can use coal grid plants far better than an alternate energy for off hours. China is also building nuclear power plants at a rate 80-1 better than America.These plants serve urban areas. No one knows what the actual safety record is, but because they use repetitive design, it appears to be excellent and only getting better and better while America’s seem to get worse and worse because of regulatory micro-management and politicians.
        The most needful market for solar is clearly Africa, where there is no grid. Solar is a great boon to farming via pumps and communication during the day, and with the incredible LED, to homeowners who have a few car batteries and recharged lanterns and phones/internet devices/computers at night.

      • China clearly knows that the Western fantasy of industrial usage of wind and solar is chimerical.
        To the extent that it uses these sources at all, it is as you say, in small, local niche applications.
        So-called “renewables”, which strangely exclude hydro, cannot replace fossil fuel and nuclear energy for large scale applications, ie modern industrial society capable of supporting up to ten billion people or more in increasing comfort, safety and health.

      • Pat Childs … why should Africa only be able to cook at midday? Africans are fed up with greenie dominated Western countries telling them how to develop their energy infrastructure. Maybe if they could develop their energy infrastructure there would be less illegal migration to the EU. Something to think about, solar is not their answer!

        • “….why should Africa only be able to cook at midday?….” You clearly don’t understand their situation. To cook their only meal a day without having to scrounge/smell/use manure is a treat. 4 hours of electricity to these people is a gift from heaven. Water can be pumped and stored, computers/online/email used (rare), charge phones if they’re in a cell tower zone (unlikely), clothes washed by machine (if they can afford one….rare), in other words all the ‘stuff’ you do with electricity on command they would gladly do in a few hour window every day. And wonder at the new technology and how it has improved their life.

      • Streetcred, hydro is cheaper than coal. Africa is building lots of hydro and coal. The probably put a few solar panels out for show when scrounging funds from the UN for the new Presidential palace.

      • 4 hours of electricity to these people is a gift from heaven.
        24 hours/day would be a better gift.
        anyone that thinks you can cook with solar panels has never tried. in asia a $10 ring cooker and a $10 bottle of gas does the job that would take $5k worth of solar panels. 1 bottle will last a family of 4 at least a month. 500 bottles = 40 years. panels at best last 20 years.
        the 500 bottles of gas you can buy for the cost of the panels will give you way more energy over 20 years than the panels, and you aren’t paying interest on $5k. just 2.4% interest on the $5k would buy the gas.

      • what use is 4 hours of electricity at noon? you turn the lights on at night. Air con at noon for your adobe hut in rural Africa? cell phone charging while you are at work?

        • If you’ve ever lived where electricity is not readily available 4 hours a day is welcomed.

      • And yet China started cancelling coal plants while it rolls out more solar… India will halt coal power plant building after ones in construction complete, is continuing to its 100GW solar by 2022 target, etc etc.
        the old China/India narrative isn’t true any more.

      • Eric, Africa is not building lots of coal or hydro…
        It is providing lots of solar… including home build solar CSP
        Mark has a good point: a solar powered LED light is better than an expensive kerosene lantern… 4 hours a day – in fact 12 near the equator – is better than expensive diesel or no power at all. Batteries, some diesel and soalr is a winner…

      • A lot of folks here are just clueless as to how much power solar produces or how much power various things we take for granted actually use. Priorities are another issue. Some might think the internet and phones is a priority. They are not. Water, food, shelter, law and order are what counts.
        As some have said, you can’t use solar for cooking nor for air con. or hot water. Gas bottles are what is used in all the 3rd world – if “wealthy” enough. We used gas bottles in the UAE and the rest of the middle East and Asia. Dung or sticks in the parts of Africa that are even more backward.
        4 hours a day is great for storing water. Bill Gates might think computers and smart phones are what they need. 2 weeks in a mud hut would teach them otherwise, especially if Belinda had to carry a jug of muddy water home every day so Bill could drink his tea. Actually I’d pay to see that.
        [And if that teat had to be heated in an open pot, suspended above a dried-dung fire? .mod]

      • Griff:
        have a look at Platt’s latest China coal consumption data – they’re burning coal like never before. Platt’s the best industry data money can buy – not your Greenpeace generated propaganda BS. Both India and China are miles off their Paris targets and if the US does pull out of the Accord, both countries will both stop even pretending.
        For perspective, there are some 1500 coal fired plants in operation or under construction worldwide – that’s where the electricity is coming from – not solar or wind @ a combined 1.5% of global totals.

      • “Griff May 7, 2017 at 11:00 am”
        More nonsense from Griff. Ethiopia is building the largest hydro dam in Africa. Dwarfs Aswan.

      • I was very downbeat on solar after my third inverter in 10 years began failing. However, my power company keeps ramping up their prices (now $0.43/KWhr). My electric bill in January was over $750. So, I just put another $10k into my solar system, getting a better inverter with a longer warranty. My bill this month dropped to $180. Most days I am saving $11. Even without the tax credit I might receive, this upgrade is paying its way.

        • 60kwh a day? Isn’t that a lot? I have a large two story home and average 10kwh/day and pay $.21 per kwh. I don’t blame you for using PV panels in your situation.

      • There goes Griff, it’s almost as if he doesn’t believe anyone will challenge his nonsense.
        Yes, China cancelled about 100 coal plants.
        They still plan to build about 2000. The economy slowed down a bit, so they found they didn’t need as many as they first thought.
        From this Griff builds and tries to sell a fantasy about China giving up on coal.

      • Wally, the reason why electric rates are going up is because so many people are destabilizing the grid by using solar.

    • Isn’t that how free markets are supposed to work? Ultimately the US dollar devalues until Americans can’t afford Chinese solar panels and then the local industry stands a chance again. What am I missing?

      • You are missing the fact that none of this is free market. It is heavily subsidized by the tax payers.

      • “When one door closes, another door opens. If you die in the looooong hallway between the two, well that’s *your* problem.”

      • “What am I missing?”
        I think the traditional argument is that the cheap currency competitor, China in this instance, keeps its prices depressed until the other nations’ industries have gone extinct. They can then hike prices way up again because there are no other competitors remaining and the industry cannot rebuild itself from scratch overnight.
        That might work in some industries, but not all. Some argue that Saudi Arabia has tried to destroy the new unconventional oil producers in the US, but they have proved too adaptive.

      • The dollar won’t devalue much simply based on the solar industry – it may not devalue at all. The US has a huge economy, and the value of the dollar is based on the whole, not a small sliver.

        • Actually, stripping all those tax dollars out of solar and wind will strengthen the dollar overall. Sound fiscal policy. Then we need to prosecute and get all that money back from the hucksters who have been stealing it.

      • You are missing what the game was really always about. It was never about supplying pie-in-the-sky renewable energy to the masses. It was about creating cash cows for well heeled fat cats with government connections.
        I believe the way the game has been played is that an “investor,” or group of investors, gets the government to OK millions in taxpayer subsidized loans to build a solar or wind generation business. Little, if any, of the investor’s own money is involved.The investor or investors have no expectation that the business will become a success.
        Instead, said investors spend the next few years vacuuming up various consulting and management fees or syphoning money into other businesses for “needed resources” until the principle business eventually goes under. At that time, the investors walk away leaving the stupid taxpayer with the bill. Cronyism at its best in the modern corporatist state!

      • It is heavily subsidized by the tax payers.
        much worse than that. solar/wind is paid to destabilize the grid, because they are not subject to supply and demand. even if the grid has too much supply, and the wholesale price goes negative to prevent a grid failure, solar and wind are still paid to pump all they can into the grid.
        grid scale electricity is not like turning a light switch on and off. it is more like turning a large, fast moving river on and off. as South Australia discovered. California may be next, with their “duck curve”. when solar/wind exceeds grid capacity, they still get paid full price to supply even more.

      • The problem is that the dollar can’t devalue so long as the Fed keeps selling treasuries to the rest of the world.

    • Good time for US buyers?
      Solar has become cheap due to low demand, ie there are too few US buyers.

      • “Solar has become cheap due to low demand”
        Here are the EIA generation figures in GWhrs
        Small scale PV..11,233….14,139….19,467
        Total PV………….26,482….35,805….52,833
        Hard to see low demand there.

      • Charles,
        Well, the EIA has figures for Jan/Feb. It’s naturally seasonal. Here is comparison with the first two months of 2016 and 2015 (generation figures in GWhrs)
        Small scale PV….1,562……2,201….2,731
        Total PV……………..3,977……5,841…7,273
        No hiatus evident.

      • Nick Stokes May 6, 2017 at 7:09 pm
        … Hard to see low demand there.

        The demand for water is yuge. Everyone needs water and would die without it. Even so, water is cheap.
        Relative to water, the demand for diamonds is puny. Almost nobody needs a diamond and yet diamonds are expensive.
        You can’t talk about demand unless you also talk about supply. Clearly there is an oversupply of PV panels.

      • “Clearly there is an oversupply of PV panels.”
        That is an issue for solar panel sellers. But it is positive for the utilization of solar energy. More panels are being used.

      • Hypothetically, then, there’s an increase in bancruptcies which is a boon for lawyers. Usage of the bancruptcy laws is beneficial to the economy. All money spent is good, irregardless of the outcomes.

      • Looks like nick won another argument.
        The poster without a name. ..
        Too funny.

      • Steven Mosher May 7, 2017 at 2:22 pm
        Looks like nick won another argument.

        Eric’s story is about the troubles besetting the pv industry. Nick pointed out that demand is increasing. I pointed out that supply has swamped demand. Nick pointed out that that is a problem for the producers, and that’s what Eric said, so he basically agrees with Eric and me.

      • Nick Stokes May 6, 2017 at 7:09 pm
        “Solar has become cheap due to low demand”
        Here are the EIA generation figures in GWhrs
        Small scale PV..11,233….14,139….19,467
        Total PV………….26,482….35,805….52,833
        Hard to see low demand there.

        It’s easy to see irrelevancy here:

        Table 1.1. Net Generation by Energy Source: Total (All Sectors), 2007-February 2017
        (Thousand Megawatthours)
        Generation at Utility Scale Facilities Small Scale Generation
        Coal Natural Gas Nuclear Hydroelectric Solar Solar PV Total Solar
        2014 1,581,710 1,126,609 797,166 259,367 17,691 11,233 28,924
        2015 1,352,398 1,333,482 797,178 249,080 24,893 14,139 39,032
        2016 1,240,108 1,380,295 805,327 265,829 36,754 19,467 56,221


    • “…Bad time for US manufacturers, good time for US buyers. Sounds familiar?…”
      Very familiar. Snake-oil salespeople and fraudsters say it all the time. Woe-is-them, lucky-is-the-buyer.

      • The ultimate snake oil salesman is De Beers. They have convinced the ladies that diamonds are rare, and valuable. Well they aren’t rare, and only a few of them are valuable.
        almost any Jewellery store will give you a written guarantee that they will buy your diamond back from you at the same price they sold it to you for, unless of course you damaged it, so it isn’t worth as much; and it is quite easy to permanently record, what the condition was when you bought it. If you put it in a ring, or a brooch, there is always a possibility that it will be damaged by the mounting. I once had a nice 1 carat diamond in a ring appraised and graded by the GIA; for a friend actually. He had bought it for his wife years ago, and somebody told them it was too valuable to be wearing in a ring,
        Sure enough the GIA found that it had been damaged (edge crack) by the mounting retainers. It was still quite valuable; about $4,000 which was over four times what he had paid for it anyway. But if it had not been cracked, it would have been appraised by the GIA at $12,000. He was still happy but they left the stone out of the ring, and replaced it with one that looked almost the same, but was a quite modest diamond.
        But look at these rings with great big square or round patches of small diamonds.
        A diamond that is half the diameter of a one carat diamond, still looks quite large, but it is only 1/8th the weight or 12.5 points. If it is one third the diameter it is 1/27th the weight or less than 4 points. stuff like that is called melee, and it an be pure junk. You can buy stuff like that for maybe $50 a carat or even less; or you can get good stuff that may be hundreds of dollars per carat. so you could take 19 diamonds that are say 10 points , so you have almost two carats of diamond, and you put 12 around 6, around one, and it is way bigger in appearance than a one carat stone, and worth a fraction of the cost, but can be spectacular looking jewelry. I guess that structure is called “Pave” well with a French accent.
        They put it in a nice white gold or even platinum setting and it looks totally huge and ladies trip over themselves wanting something like that; but it costs very little to make.
        Well the reason the store will buy your stone back at the same price, is you are buying an even bigger or more expensive stone from them, and they have at least double the price they paid for the diamond, when they sell it to you, and they can resell your diamond for even more than you paid.
        Hey it’s a business; I’m not going to complain about what two people mutually agree is a good deal for both of them.

    • I love the provides “11% of global electricity”. That’s probably based on the wind and solar sticker capacities and not the actual production when the sun goes down and the wind dies. It’s more likely closer to 1% without even being cynical.

      • There is no way so-called “renewables” are serving 11%of the world demand for electricity. In Texas, the most successful state in the US for wind, even on great perfect wind days double digit % of production happens for a few minutes or hours at a time. And perfect wind days are rare. But climate related issues have been factually discussed by the consensus (publicly) even more rarely.

      • Good point! It is probably actually 2.5% of global electricity since averaged between all solar and all wind combined, 22%-23% efficiency to installed name plate capacity. Energy density is everything and unfortunately, wind and and solar are not.

      • higley7
        May 6, 2017 at 7:06 pm
        I love the provides “11% of global electricity”. That’s probably based on the wind and solar sticker capacities and not the actual production when the sun goes down and the wind dies. It’s more likely closer to 1% without even being cynical.

        I haven’t checked, but its probably the only time that “renewables” includes hydro.

    • If people think a business may be going broke, they will not buy a product that may require support from said company.
      If they think an entire market is unstable, they will hold off spending until things stabilize.
      This becomes a self fulfilling prophecy ,as a businesses suffer from perceived problems,whether they exist or not.
      Eventually you end up with just a few companies who have survived, and this usually ends up in a situation where they get to charge whatever they want, as there is little competition.

      • However once the companies start making big profits, other companies jump into the market in an attempt to get some of those profits for themselves.

    • I have to agree with Nick on this one. Why should we taxpayers subsidize these get rich quick schemes for the politically connected? Let the Chinese produce PV for those who want it and keep the pollution problems in China.
      Sorry, I don’t have any anecdotes to illustrate the uselessness of PV for most areas of the USA.

      • Sorry you had to agree with nick.
        China can build and export all their subsidized solar crap, but when it hits our shores, my tax dollars shouldn’t be spent to install it and force my electric bill higher by forcing real electric producers to by it overpriced

    • “…Doesn’t sound like a crash for solar energy…?” Well you could be right, “if China wants to save the world by subsidising cheap solar for everyone…” and California (the 800 pound gorilla in the U.S.) “…seems keen to continue pouring public money into the bottomless renewables money pit….,” then industry collapse will be deferred for a couple more years. Nick, eventually you will run out of everybody else’s money, I think you need to be more alert to what the word “subsidy” actually means for any industry. In fact, subsidies have been removed in many U.S. states and the “….Solar Energy Crash….”, by removing subsidies, has been happening since 2009 in Spain, Germany, etc.

    • Bad time for all PV manufacturers in 2016, according to Renewable Energy World, with the assessment that solar PV module fabrication is unsustainable as a business-
      “According to Paula Mints, Chief Market Research Analyst with SPV Market Research, if you sit down and think about the way solar is operating, the unprofitability up and down the supply chain, it will make your head explode.
      “Nobody is making money,” she said.
      Mints is concerned that the solar industry is unsustainable because the whole industry is supported by government incentives or mandates and that is partly to blame for companies underbidding on projects.”

    • I used to know a Suniva Vitch; but he didn’t know beans about solar panels.

  2. SunEdison is THE long-lasting renewable energy company. Now it is gone as well as the 10,000 start-ups after it.
    These companies all eventually go under. Somebody loses big bucks and somebody makes big bucks. But it is just not a viable business on a long-term basis because the physics of solar and wind just do not work. Subsidy-mining is all it really about.
    The next politician who proposes expanding or even keeping these subsidies should be promptly voted out of office simply because they have poor judgement. These people should not be making decisions for us because their judgement sucks. We should all be making this point when ever it comes up and we need to get these people out of office. They are wasting YOUR money.

    • Belief in magical schemes unfortunately has always sold well with people. The gypsy wagons selling tonics, the “As Seen on TV” lines of products, the perpetual energy machine (sold by email now), the 200 mpg carburator (now irrelevant, but it had it’s day), the “free electricity” Tesla machine, and on and on. These are purchased on a more grand scale now by governments all the way up from local to national. It’s interesting to note that it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to remove the belief in magic from human beings. Education helps, but many people simply will not give up the belief. Sellers are very adept at keeping enough believers to fund the scheme. With the backing of the government, as in wind and solar, the belief in magical schemes is held even stronger because an “authority” is backing it.

    • Subsidy-mining is all it really about.

      “YUP”, ….. the same as was/is the “green-gasoline” (ethanol) subsidies.
      Me thinks, in most cases, …… “Political-Payback” means the same thing as “Subsidy-mining.”

  3. The suggestion was made to build Trump’s Wall with solar panels… it pays for its self….Bwaaahahahaha.

    • Yeah ! and you need to face the panels south, so that it is easier to hit them with rocks.
      Duzz the sun ever get north of the USA / Mexico border ??
      Just asking.

      • That would be the Tropic of Cancer, so no. But the panels would be pretty useless if installed vertically as a wall especially in the summer.

      • I thought they were talking about putting the panels on top of the 20 foot wall, where it’s harder to hit them with rocks. There’s always shooting the panels, of course, so I’m thinking it’s one of those useless suggestions people throw out. Sadly, not enough wind for turbines.

    • Ok…where is the flaw in that idea?? Sound like good economic sense to me.
      I’d put money into it.
      So, where do I send my $1.75?
      I think thats about the right level of risk I’d be comfortable with.

    • Just Trump’s threat to build the border wall is paying off for U.S. taxpayers by reducing the number of illegal aliens trying to get into the U.S. by about 70 percent, which adds up to big bucks when you consider all the U.S. taxpayer money illegal aliens absorb when they get here.

    • Use wind turbines for the uprights supporting the wall sections.
      At least it won;’t matter if they stop spinning, since they will still be useful for holding up the wall.

      • Why not just learn from the experience with golden eagles, so just lower the wind turbines till they are about six inches off the ground (lower than a pay toilet door).
        And then let people try their luck at the dodgems.
        Time shared wall and green energy to pay for it at the same time as it substitutes for border guards.
        Well you do need border guard backup for when the wind ain’t.

    • An actual cheap material for the Wall would be worn-out shipping containers. The US has lots of them. They could be filled with worn-out tires, which no-one has figured out a use for.

  4. And California has a major unfunded pension overhang, so the ability of the state to continue subsidies for solar is limited by the willingness of the Federal government to bail them out. Most of the states favoring solar are in the same situation as California.

    • The best feature of Trump’s tax plan is to end the federal deduction for state and local taxes, so that taxpayers in North Dakota don’t have to subsidize the profligacy of New York and California.

      • Gotta say Chimp that you are on to something. If I was a North Dakotan, I would consider California to be an enemy State as well, with their anti-fracking, anti Oil idiocy.
        Do they have any nowheres in North Dakota that don’t need connecting by bullet trains ??

      • Chimp,
        Trump keeps the mortgage interest deduction, which is the same kind of subsidy.
        He’s a real estate guy.

      • Z,
        There’s a big difference. The mortgage deduction is available to everyone in the country and promotes and important industry. The state and local tax deduction helps only those in high tax states.

      • The mortgage deduction puts property owners on a less unequal footing with renters, since all business expenses are deductible by land lords.

      • Chimp, the mortgage deduction helps those who live in areas of expensive real estate more than it helps those elsewhere. It’s also worth more to people with high incomes.

      • Chimp the mortgage deduction skews the building market to build more expensive dwellings. But but it’s an important industry. ..too funny.

        • The snowflakes, or just flakes, need something to be upset about, so long as it is a fashionable cause. Airshows are just another target.

      • Tom,
        I ask myself, what is the ultimate goal of Snowflakedom?
        As soon as same-sex marriage got the federal seal of approval, regardless of what the states wanted, then opposite-sex bathrooms became the new cause to be championed. And this from the same people who previously championed the right to “privacy”, when it meant killing viable fetuses.
        What will be next, after strange, hairy men tinkling next to four year old girls? Sex between adults and children? Multiple marriage? Is there some desired end state, or is the goal simply overturning societal norms in and of itself?

        • I used to live over the hill from Berkeley and SF (Concord), and their main goal is to seem cool to their friends. Striving for the Radiant Future went mostly away after the fall of the Berlin Wall, so they became greens. As the fringe members of the LBGT movement hang out at demonstrations for whatever, they picked up on that cause, too.
          This is only a critique of the dilettantes, not the advocates of the various causes.

      • is the goal simply overturning societal norms in and of itself
        “A certain kind of eternal adolescent never stops getting a thrill out of scandalizing his retrograde Lutheran grandmother.”

      • Paul,
        You’re definitely on an aphorism role here this Saturday.
        I’m inclined along your lines. Societies deviants and bullied dorks just want to smash not the state, but the whole “system”, ie human nature, which subjected them to such indignities as kids.

      • “I ask myself, what is the ultimate goal of Snowflakedom?”
        The subversion of Western culture to the point where the Red Army can roll across Europe and America unopposed, and spread the Soviet utopia world-wide.
        The Snowflakes make a whole lot more sense when you realize that they’re the result of Soviet subversion programs running on autopilot since the Soviet Union collapsed.

      • Mark,
        It’s not just autopilot. Under former KGB officer Putin, Russian subversion of the West has been intensified to Cold War levels.

      • Paranoid much? DiFi (Senator Dianne Feinstein) admitted there is no evidence of collusion she has seen, and she is quite partisan, if not actively delusional like some of her party.

      • Opposite ends Chimp; Chinoans never heard of Chico.
        Kenji knows Chico like the back of his paw. But Kenji wouldn’t go to Chino on a bet.

      • Colbert is simply rude. Imagine what Gulag he would be in had the joke been about Obama or Hillary. I may not think much about Trump, but the Trump hate is way, way, way over the top. Why?

        • Because he’s not PC and he challenges the status quo. He won because people are tired of being told their morals are corrupt and the government knows better.

      • Putin was in the Clintons’ and Obama’s orifices far deeper and longer than Trump’s. He’s now defying Putin in Syria. Putin bought off the Clinton’s with uranium deals and his slush fund. He didn’t have to buy off Obama, who is a Red Diaper Baby.

      • “or is the goal simply overturning societal norms in and of itself?”
        I think that is the objective, Chimp.

      • enargpia, I see you are still trotting out tried and true lies.
        Then again, it’s not like you’ve ever had much use for the truth.

  5. One thing that gets missed is that, even if the panel installers were making money, a lot of the “early adopter” systems are starting to show their age already. This is a problem, since the normal pitch is “this will last 25 years with minimal maintenance,” but five or six years in, a bunch of those early systems are having hardware problems, on top of some early efficiency drops that just weren’t supposed to happen yet. Cheap panels = cheap weather seals + cheap wiring.
    A further drop in panel prices isn’t going to help much, either, since the biggest cost for a photovoltaic system isn’t the panels any more – it’s the installation, from permitting to hanging the things on the roof to managing the power storage and wiring. While the panels are pretty straightforward, everything else in the system is a custom install, and that costs $$$ – while making long-term reliability and troubleshooting even more expensive.
    The big solar farm providers are in the same boat – one-off, handbuilt systems made up of millions of parts, all installed by low bidders and semi-skilled labor.

    • In California, there’s a darn good chance those panels will get stolen long before they start to show any signs of degradation.
      A local school proudly installed some solar panels on the school roof all in one weekend.
      Next weekend, the workers were back up on the roof de-installing the panels.
      Actually the second lot were a bunch of thieves. They grew up stealing Catalytic converters from under parked cars.
      You just need gall and balls for that occupation.

      • & a lorry….
        “Thieves stole an entire wall of handmade 120-year-old bricks in Avenue Road in Westcliff-on-Sea, loading them all on a truck and disappearing, the Southend Standard reports.
        The gang pretended to be builders and even wore high-visibility jackets. What’s more, a neighbour offered them a broom to clear up the area, believing that the property owners had hired them to take the wall down.”

      • Dress and act like you belong there and most people will believe you belong there, often without a second thought.
        Bad thieves only know how to run. Good thieves know how to hide. Great thieves know how to hide in plain sight.

      • You’re right, drednicolson.
        Many years ago, a student I know (ahem!), lived upstairs in a college dormitory which had classrooms, science labs, a computer lab, and a small library downstairs. He managed to borrow a master key for long enough to make a copy, and he put the copy on his key ring. It opened the doors to all the classrooms, labs, and library.
        The library had limited daytime hours. So, when he needed a quiet place to study, he would go downstairs to the library, turn on all the lights, lock the door behind him, spread out his books on the table closest to the dead center of the room, and study in peace.
        He never damaged anything, or stole so much as a pencil, but he sure broke all kinds of rules!
        He was visible to everyone who walked by the door. But nobody ever questioned his presence there, not even once.
        If he’d been sneaking around in the dark with a flashlight, he’d surely have been arrested.
        He carried that key on his keyring until he graduated. He used the library regularly, for years. It was very handy.

      • A story I heard many years ago.
        A certain worker was seen leaving the work site with a wheel barrow full of dirt every night. This went on for several weeks and people wondered why he would be stealing dirt.
        A while later, after he had quit and someone counted inventory, they realized he had been stealing wheel barrows.

  6. Many haven’t learned the lesson from the 1930’s and 1940’s about Tariffs. The Free Enterprise system doesn’t work when Trade with other countries is hindered by Tariffs. It raises the cost for those products and reduces trade with them. All Nationalist systems fail because it increases cost to the consumers, because the local products producer’s increase their prices to match the lower prices from other countries. Extreme taxation and regulations are why it costs USA manufacturers to provide compatible products to compete. If Trump’s reductions had been in effect since Reagan or JFK that started that ideology…we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in now. But policymakers want more of your money to fund all their pet projects and it is killing the provider’s and the consumers by price distortions that always go up.

  7. What drives me nuts is that all of this installation is heavily subsidized by the tax payers. It is all an artificial market.

    • installation is heavily subsidized by the tax payers
      want to get a $500 million dollar subsidy? promise to contribute $100 million to re-elect the party in power.
      forget green power. solar subsidies are graft powered.

  8. The “oh just you wait until solar is cheaper” crowd is now the “oh crap solar is too cheap to be profitable” crowd.

    • It’s actually too expensive to be profitable.
      You need a willing seller and a willing buyer, both of whom will expect to make a profit from the transaction.
      When you have an organized crime ring telling you that you have to buy something (protection) at least one of the parties to the transaction is not going to make a profit.
      Obama told us we could keep our plan and we could keep our doctor; and our plan that we could keep had to be the one he was selling, and the doctor we could keep had to be one who would accept patients using the Obama compulsory plan.
      He forgot to make it compulsory for people to go into the medical field, and accept patients, who weren’t going to pay himer.

  9. It’s too cheap for the producers to make money and it’s too expensive for the consumers to buy it without government subsidies.
    Such a quandary.

  10. Surprise surprise. The low hanging solar panel fruit has been picked and there’s no more takers.

  11. Solar Panels- I got Sunpower panels in late 2008. They started out at 25% over MJN(Mid-Atlantic) estimate. They ended 2016 at 11% over. <2% a year deterioration. I'm happy.
    The subsidies were, and are, ridiculous. I estimate we got about a 37% installation subsidy, not mention the stupid renewable credits. The panels themselves, just by largely offsetting air conditioning costs, would have paid for themselves long before they hit 70% capacity around 30 something years.. They'd continue paying for the AC then. I'm sure I'll be long gone. Once again, thank you all for your generous contributions.
    I'm kinda sorry, but if the folks are willing to vote in imbeciles that pass these laws I'll live buy them(bad pun). I really Trump gets the EPA reigned in quickly and simply cancels Ob's executive order on the Paris Agreement. Just give them the 1 year notice and be done with it. Then anyone who wants to make a real treaty will have to get it by the senate.

  12. Watermelon Environmentalist Economics; More Waste, Inefficiency, and Incompetence than Conservation
    Ever wonder why Sierra Club, World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace and any other Marxist Watermelon Environmental organization never produce any “green products” that actually prove the theories they are supporting will actually do any good? The reason is simple, the economics simply aren’t there. Watermelon groups spend most of their money lobbying the government to spend tax dollars to fund their projects.

    • I think what was meant was, ^demand for American-made products dropped due over-supply of cheaper products from China.^

      • PS: These US bankruptcies erode the number of “green jobs” in America, which is a warmist talking point.

        • The sheer number of jobs per kilowatt-hour is one reason why “renewables” are so damnably expensive.

  13. “In the past two years, as prices on solar modules dropped and demand decreased due to oversupply, Suniva was losing millions …”
    I fail to see how oversupply can be responsible for “demand decrease”. If this is indicative of the kind of analysis that guides this industry, then it is not surprising that their plan “B” is a vacuum-proof connection to the public treasury facilitated by the worst sort of politicians.

    • “I fail to see how oversupply can be responsible for “demand decrease”.”
      It decreased the demand for Suniva’s modules. People preferred the cheaper Chinese. As the next sentence says:
      “Ultimately the company filed for bankruptcy, placing blame on Chinese manufactures who flooded the US market with cheap imports.”

      • The funny thing to me is that it was a Chinese owned company that now wants to raise tariffs on Chinese imported solar panels…huh???

      • Which cheap imports (dumped here) are also still way too expensive to give a payback before they crap out.

      • It is more than likely that “demand” actually increased as the market was “flooded” with cheap Chinese substitutes. To suggest that demand for Suniva’s product decreased is to ignore the price mechanism in markets. But then again, fewer and fewer of us understand markets. Do not invest in enterprises that confuse symptoms (reduced sales) with causes (lower priced competitors,) unless you know they have a lip lock on the public purse.

    • Cronyism is not supply and demand Free Enterprise. If the Government had not subsidised these green energy producer’s. And it was left to the Free Enterprise system they would have not survived as long as they have, with the Government intrusions that have cost the taxpayers billions of dollars. In the Free Enterprise system a product that is not popular fails early and little is lost. Where a popular product that people want will naturally boost sells and the demand for it that just needs to be supplied to the consumers.

  14. “With wind and solar supplying more than 11% of global electricity, the company’s debt-induced collapse enabled competitors to strengthen their existing hands or enter new markets.”
    Leftist cronies are such liars…
    Wind and solar produce nowhere NEAR 11% of global electricity…
    A typical Leftist will also tell you wind and solar are now “cheaper” than coal and natural gas in terms of cost per kWh…. The reality is that wind/solar are roughly 5~6 TIMES as expensive: $0.30/kWh vs. $0.06/kWh…
    This is just another example of Leftists repeating lies in pursuit of their nefarious ends..

  15. “Hard to see low demand there.”
    Those numbers are estimated generation. Let me put it into perspective. Mickey Mouse is a more important part of the US economy.
    I am still waiting to see an honest economic evaluation of small scale solar.

  16. One reason for the uptick in bankruptcies and cutbacks is Trump – or, rather, not-Hillary. Some were undoubtedly hanging on in anticipation of being bailed out.

    • Probably better to let them go peacefully via bankruptcies than hang on for years on life support with bail outs.

  17. Hi all ,Im a lifelong Democrat who totally agrees 100% with the Skeptic argument about AGW.
    Im wondering how you intelligent right wingers can think its a good idea to lose your health care due to preexisting conditions?
    I mean you and your parents and children are going to be at risk of death .So whats the point?
    I followed this blog for the past 10 years.Im a supporter of the skeptic science.
    But how can you be so stupid to support harm to yourselves and your families?

    • “….Im wondering how you intelligent right wingers can think its a good idea to lose your health care due to preexisting conditions?….” You only think that because that’s what you’ve been told by the MSM. There’s money set aside for situations. AHA hasn’t been through the whole process and defined yet so don’t get upset until you know and understand the whole package. Then you can get upset. This will be like “you have to read it first to understand it” (Pelosi) but you’ll be given the time to do so. So tell me….how’s Obamacare doing so far that all the providers are dropping out? You don’t even know failure when it slaps you in the face.

    • Quite simple. No one will buy insurance during the healthy portion of their life. All intelligent people will just pay for medical expenses out of pocket. When they develop cancer, get pregnant, etc., they will then buy insurance.
      Consider the auto insurance market. Why pay those expensive premiums? When you run into a tree, just go buy auto insurance for your pre-existing car condition. For a payment of your first $100/month premium, the insurance company will gladly pay you $30,000 to replace the car that you just totaled.
      Health insurance is slightly more complicated, but you see that a true insurance model cannot possibly work where pre-existing conditions can be covered for those that have not kept up continuous insurance coverage.

      • Pillage Idiot:
        You say

        Quite simple. No one will buy insurance during the healthy portion of their life. All intelligent people will just pay for medical expenses out of pocket. When they develop cancer, get pregnant, etc., they will then buy insurance.

        Yes, that is so “simple” that only a self-declared “idiot” would write it.
        Insurance premiums would be prohibitively expensive for someone e.g. suffering from cancer in the unlikely event that a company would offer them health insurance.
        You could have written with equal validity,
        ‘Quite simple. No one will buy house insurance during the undamaged portion of their house’s life. All intelligent people will just pay for normal maintenance expenses out of pocket. When their house is on fire, struck by an earthquake, etc., they will then buy insurance’.
        In other words, your assertion is plain daft.

      • It isn’t daft in the slightest, for the simple reason that you can’t buy auto or house insurance for things that have already happened.

    • mojomojo, how are you !
      Your point health care –
      no problem when from 1st working day you contribute / pay into ‘health care’.
      Obama’s as Trump’s problem with ‘health care’ is a ONE TIME event –
      how to integrate people into health care financial
      that never in their lifetime contributed to health care.

    • Well mojo^2, when you are forced by an organized crime outfit to buy something you don’t want, don’t need, and can’t afford; like a gender change surgical procedure, suddenly the risk factor becomes 100%, and then no longer is the risk spread over the pool according to likelihood of need.
      Under the OLD free enterprise system, people could buy coverage for whatever level of risk they thought they needed. A confirmed bachelor, needed no insurance to cover maternity costs, so he didn’t buy an insurance policy that included that.
      Also sane people who realized that it would be very expensive to cover their medical costs in the case of a weekly parachute jump for thrills, resulting in an accident, considered just how much they really wanted to engage in ” high risk ” behaviors.
      Oh and just for laughs; under the old free enterprise system, NOBODY was ever turned away from needed medical treatment, simply because they couldn’t pay for it.
      Not to mention the many Charitable groups, who collected funds from all kinds of donors, to provide totally free desperately needed medical treatment for those unfortunate enough to be afflicted.
      When everybody is forced to pay for totally ridiculous and expensive treatment for all kinds of high risk behavior consequences, they may become less inclined to give to such charities, simply because they can’t afford both.
      When an Insurance expert told the news media (on Nightline) specifically that medical insurance companies could not under NY State law require applicants for a personal health insurance policy to take a test for a particular disease, that was life threatening, the thinking was that 10% of the persons testing positive for that disease were going to die from it, the interviewer (Ted Koppel) asked the expert how many of them actually would die; his answer was simple; ” ALL of them.” was his response.
      NY state wouldn’t allow the mandatory test , so those insurance companies simply stopped selling ANY private health insurance policies in the State of New York.
      You can’t force people to indulge in business practices that are absolutely guaranteed to make the business go broke.
      So mojo^2, perhaps a 4-H club course in simple economics would be a useful thing for you to take.

    • I know little about health insurance but do have this thought.
      The government steps in when natural disasters strike providing relief.
      Catastrophic health problems should be handled the same way. Other than that the government should stay out of the health care business.
      i do not know what percentage of health care costs are related to catastrophic illnesses (thinking of things like cancer) but the smaller the government involvement IN ANYTHING, the greater the tax savings. Health care as a whole is just too big for government. Limit government involvement and perhaps, just perhaps, government involvement might be a plus.
      The illness events covered by this catastrophic government coverage would have to be strictly limited or it would just turn into another left wing vote buying scheme offering more and more coverage and government getting bigger and bigger and medical care becoming more and more expensive. There should not be an agency that can change the rules independent of congressional approval.
      Would something like what i have vaguely outlined have any chance of working?
      Eugene WR Gallun

      • It wouldn’t work because there is no cost structure for catastrophe. The medical field would just keep billing the government. You even acknowledge this. What is necessary is that any independent agencies should not be subject to lobbying which seems to be at the root of many of America’s problems.

      • There is no reason for the federal government to step in when a major disaster occurs.
        They do for propaganda purposes, not because there is no one else that can do it.

    • I wonder what percentage of healthcare costs is simply due to people taking crappy care of themselves. It must be astronomical.
      I’m 55. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I swim about 10,000 yds a week, my cycling includes about 9000 ft of climbing a week, and I surf out front whenever it’s good … I’m fit as @#$%. Why should I or anyone else be forced at gunpoint to subsidize the bad behavior of others?

      • James Fixx and Arthur Ashe were very fit also, but didnt make much difference. Maybe instead of being so smug and self centred give a little thought to those who find themselves in need of healthcare support just because thats the way the card fall.

      • The message Max makes is yet valid. Where in the land of “universal rights” does self-responsability enter?
        Catastrophic coverage, along with greatly simplified care, ( no sex change operations, tort reform- you do not get to sue for free care, etc… can be discussed, but making goverment everybody’s parent, and turning adults into dependent children is a sure-fire path to ruin.

      • Mark, I am not being smug. I am being descriptive. And I was NOT talking about those who have health issues due to things beyond their control. I was only talking about the health issues that are directly in a person’s control: obesity and the myriad issues that cascade from it, smoking, over-drinking, drugs, unsafe sex, not wearing a seat-belt, unhealthy diet, and so on.
        David gets the point: where does personal responsibility come in? Is there some universal right to be irresponsible, and then have others be forced to pay for it? (Geez, if anything, it should be the other way around — people who choose to be unhealthy should subsidize people like me.)

      • Mark, I was just investagoogling the percentage of healthcare costs that are due to factors in a patient’s control, and depending on the source, the number seems to be between 50% to 70%. Let that in! But is it any surprise?

      • An active, healthy, long-lived person consumes more healthcare services over his/her lifetime than a beer-guzzling couch potato who keels over from cirrhosis at 40.
        How many unhealthy people get broken bones from rock-climbing accidents? How many unhealthy people get head injuries from bicycle accidents? How many unhealthy people persist for a decade or more in nursing home care?
        In sole terms of healthcare costs, people with healthy, active lifestyles are the real enemy.

      • Mark $tephens,
        You say “… give a little thought to those who find themselves in need …”
        Didn’t you mean to say ” … give a litttle (or a lot) of monetary support…” ?
        I’m in the same boat as Max (although I’m a bit lazier). I buy the “gold” version insurance for my daughter since its only a few hundred a month. I buy none for myself. I can’t justify spending over 10% of my gross for a plan that doesn’t do anything for me (even if I bought the top of the line plan I wouldn’t have gotten anything out of it … and it would have been $30 to $40K down the drain over the last 4 years).
        I admit that someday, off in the future, I may be one of those people that find themselves in need …. At that time I hope you are still willing to give me a little thought and support. Let’s keep in touch.

      • Max, so you deny that people who excercise have excercise related medical issues?
        Do you deny that people who die young typically have lower life time medical care costs?
        You are the one seeing what you want to see, not dred.

      • C’mon Mark,
        Dred said “In sole terms of healthcare costs, people with healthy, active lifestyles are the real enemy.” That must be what Dred sees (s/he said it).
        What Max sees is that peoples’ healthcare costs are about 50% to 70% within their control (don’t know if that stat is true, but that’s what s/he said s/he sees); and that personal responsibility should be important.

    • No one is losing their healthcare due to pre-existing conditions. That is a lie from Pocahontas and the rest of the lefty liars.

    • LOL!!! That’s silly argument is like the government setting up a Department of Socialized Food Supply, and then after the program goes bankrupt and people are starving in the streets (like Venezuela) loony Leftists say: “What? Do away with the DSFS?? Do you conservatives want your children to starve???” What kind of heartless SOBs are you???”
      Yawn… That’s a straw man argument at its worst..
      Prior to Medicaid/care, the US only spent 6% of GDP on healthcare and we had the best and most advanced medical care in the world–now its close to 20% of GDP because of all the government rules, regulations, mandates and medical welfare programs…
      Just let the worldwide private sector health insurance market supply a wide range of catastrophic health insurance programs that RESPONSIBLE (remember that concept)people can choose from that meets their economic and medical needs…
      Anyone BORN with a pre-existing condition (1 million?) that cannot be insured by the private sector can be cover d by private charities and/or means-tested government welfare programs…
      You can’t have an “insurance” system where people buy health “insurance” AFTER they get sick or injured.. That would be like purchasing fire “insurance’ AFTER your house burns down….
      See how that works?

    • Oh, now I see – you’re that kind of lifelong democrat.
      In Venezuela the benevolent government has agreed to pay for all of the needs of the people. The children will soon be dying in droves from this surfeit of compassion.

    • Let us not confuse availability of medical insurance with availability of care. About 15 years ago here in California we saw hospital after hospital closing their emergency rooms because the uninsured would go to the ER (the most expensive place to practice medicine) when needed, and it was bankrupting the hospitals. No hospital ER is allowed to turn anyone away, at least in California. So, care is available. It may take an hour or two to get to the remaining county ER, and one may have to wait a long time in the waiting room, but it is there.
      Additionally, we are told constantly on the radio that people can get medical treatment under MediCal, and that as many as 1/3 of the people in California are receiving MediCal benefits.
      Neither of these is a viable, long-term solution, but please stop telling us that people won’t be getting medical care because of the AHA (if it is passed).
      Oh, and we are told that there are 20 M people in the US today with no medical insurance coverage (big fail for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act). Are they dying as we correspond? Not.

    • mojomojo, that’s exactly the threat of Obamacare, which is what the Republican reform is intended to prevent.
      Here’s the problem: government control — whether via outright takeover, or heavy-handed regulation — inevitably leads to inefficiency, shortage, and rationing of care. The massive 2016 Obamacare insurance premium increases which helped swing the Presidential election are just the tip of the iceberg. If you want to see where that road ends, take a long, hard look at Canada, where they’ve been on that road for about fifty years.
      TimelyMedical is a Candian company which sells medical care to Canadians, who supposedly get it for free. This is from an old version of their web site; look at the wait times for “free” common medical procedures in Canada:
      Here’s a 2009 Stossel (ABC News 20/20) expose:

      At least Canadians can, as a last resort, come to the USA for care. But think about that . If the American health care system deteriorates as badly as Canada’s has, then where will Americans (and Canadians!) go for care?
      When you need an MRI, and the wait time is six months, what will you do?
      When you need your gall bladder removed, and face a wait time of three years in misery, what will you do? Where will you go?
      More insidiously, as government control squeezes the profit out of medical innovation, innovation will surely slow. Your child may die of a condition which will be curable a few years too late, but might have been curable in time for your child to be saved, if medical innovation weren’t crippled by government imposed cost controls.

      • Socialized healthcare for people is like Linux OSes for computers. Only free if your time has no value.

      • I read recently that there is a bill under consideration in the CA legislature for the state government to go to a single payer model for health insurance.
        Like the state isn’t going broke fast enough.

    • Another socialist who actually believes that if the government doesn’t provide charity, there will be no charity.
      Another possibility is that it actually believes that unless government requires people to take care of themselves, nobody will seek out medical care.

  18. Summertime Blues
    Blue Cheer
    Well Lord I got to raise a fuss, Lord I got to raise a holler
    About a workin’ all summer just to try to earn a dollar
    Well, Lord, I tried to call my baby, I tried to get a date
    Sometimes, I wonder what I’m gonna do
    Lord, there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues
    Well my mom and papa told me son you gotta make some money
    Well if you wanna use the car to go a ridin’ next sunday
    Oh, Lord, I didn’t go to work I told the boss I was sick, said
    Sometimes, I wonder what I’m gonna do
    Lord, there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues
    I’ve got to take three weeks I gotta have a fine vacation
    I gotta take my problems to the United Nations
    I done told my congress man and he said “vote” (dig this boy)
    Sometimes, I wonder what I’m gonna do
    Lord, there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues

  19. The solar industry​ has had problems, a long time before Trump took up office. Bankruptcy after bankruptcy, took place in 2010-2017 with small and large solar installation, manufacturer and retail outfits.
    I worked for one , that went b.k. and left me with no pay for the last month of work with them . The company( incorp) filed bankruptcy ( chapter 7 only ) and I never seen a cent. While mech. Liens were placed on homes and businesses. Because solar panels and other materials were not paid. This happened all the time , with many solar scammers and crooks benefitting and just starting new solar companies​. I read in 2012 that Obama was an investor in many of these companies.
    But all was swept under the rug. Maybe Trump may help clean up some of this. Which believe was a start of problem​, that is or could hurt the solar industry.

  20. If solar power can’t replace coal, gas, hydro and nuclear without stealing tax dollars,,,,,,OH! Yea, thats right, it is a scam to steal tax dollars not provide cheap and reliable power. Sorry, my bad.

    • Okay, there are a few nuclear plants coming toward completion after promising greater cost controls than past eras. Let’s see the ratepayer cost numbers for those new disasters now that Westinghouse is kaput.

      • Cost over runs have been because of delays and costs increases due to regulators and lawsuits by greenies, You can find this in the bankruptcy proceedings. The other part of the costs have been that delays resulted in penalties due to the fact that the nukes were prepaid and interest and cost to consumers resulted in penalties. Look for Toshiba bankruptcy filings. They were sent to me because I am on the large electric consumer list.
        It has caused a 25% increase to date, and an expected 15% to 25% more if not built. Go team Green!
        Wish we had all those solar and wind subsidies, instead of them using mine and other people’s money.

  21. Does large scale solar grid generation get subsidies in the USA? How much as % of wholesale price to grid? Is it compulsory?
    Subsidy for a fundamentally inferior and intermittent energy spource is regressive, it should be stopped and what works best on the money allowed to thrive. If it competes head to head with gas and nuclear, great.
    Off grid in the desert it clearly makes sense. Not at 50 degrees NOrth where it never gets dark in the Summer and duty cycle is 11% of not a lot.
    BUT, OVERALL -, why should on grid users subsidise it anywhere? OK. it’s not a significant amount of energy overall, so the relative few who choose to live off the grid can pay the higher cost, not those on the grid. DEveloped countries git that way aggregating in towns and cities we provide with infrastructure all share the cost and benfits of, etc.. That’s an efficient collective society’s deal = civilisation. Susbidising green cults and those well off who would impoverish the poorest with overpriced enrgy to profit themselves with the subsidies paid for by the poorest isn’t. IMO

  22. I believe that the author of this article may have misinterpreted the current status of the solar power industry. My reasoning is that many potential Solar City customers may be waiting for the new Tesla integrated solar roofing system. If that system proves to be successful, Solar City’s share of the residential solar power market will increase significantly in the following year.

  23. Solar sounds a lot better than it really is, when you get into the details. No problem with soalr as long as 1) it is not allowed, by govt decree, to toxify the grid by dumping unused rooftop energy onto the grid (force roof owners to buy batteries if they don’t want to lose unused power), and 2) their electric bills are not being subsidized by their neighbors, many of whom do not live where they can employ rooftop solar. Utlities must be barred from accepting any power that is not available all the time and controllable by the grid masters. Florida does this now and that’s one reason solar roofs are rare in the Sunshine State. Solar subsidies to rooftop owners are what provided Solar City’s enormous profits, since they are the owners of the solar roofs and got the $7500 per roof Fed subsidy (over half the total cost). Owning a house with a Solar City roof solar system was often a nightmare, especially when trying to sell the house and stick the new owner with it. While solar cells have contiuously declined in price. installation costs have not been reduced nearly as much and inverters (which change the DC power coming from the cells to AC power for the home) often cost more than the solar cells. Then there is the big negative economic gorilla in the room : the need to reshingle the roof, which requires that the solar installation be dismantled, the roof reshingled and then the solar cells re-installed, the labor required to take care of the solar system more expensive than the reshingling. All in all, putting solar cells on a roof is a short-sighted (and stupid) idea,
    unless the owner himself does all of the labor.
    If any, the only feasible spot for solar cells are when laid out on the ground in a desert. That’s when they make the most sense, if ever. But molten salt nuclear reactors will make solar/wind (as well as all fossil fuel power) economically and environmentally idiotic. Any discussions of future power generation that doesn’t accept this rather obvious future cannot be taken as realistic or serious.

    • arthur4563, wrote, “…as long as 1) it is not allowed, by govt decree, to toxify the grid by dumping unused rooftop energy onto the grid (force roof owners to buy batteries if they don’t want to lose unused power),…”
      I agree with you, Arthur, except that, instead of batteries, it would be better to require rooftop solar owners to install “smart meters” or “smart hot water heaters” which could shut off their electric hot water heaters, as necessary, to balance the grid. There’s a lot more bang for the buck to be had that way.
      (Caveat: it’s harder to make that approach work with the new, overpriced, heatpump-based water heaters, since, like computers, it’s unhealthy for them to be turned on and off at random, without going through an orderly shutdown.)
      Batteries are just too darn expensive, and they go bad in a few years.
      I suppose an alternative, perhaps required only for rooftop solar owners who don’t have electric hot water heaters, would be a “smart inverter switch,” which would only allow a rooftop solar array to sell power to the grid when there’s a need for it.
      It is hard to imagine large scale solar power (“solar farms”) ever making economic & environmental sense, in most cases. I agree that molten salt thorium nuclear seems destined to eat solar’s lunch in most cases, for large markets.
      However, I can think of some special circumstances where having some large-ish-scale solar capacity on the grid might make sense:
      1. where local peak load is mid-afternoon in the summer, usually on cloudless days, which happens to be when solar works best; and
      2. where electricity is very expensive, and seems destined to remain so for a long time to come, perhaps because nuclear is impractical for some reason: e.g., the practical “local” (grid-accessible) market is too small to justify a nuclear plant, or the locals are incapable of running it, or political instability.
      It would also help if
      3. there’s a substantial amount of on-demand capacity already available, perhaps hydro, which can be used to balance the fluctuations in solar supply.

  24. Based on this hodge-podge of press releases, analysis, and extraneous comments, to paraphrase Mark Twain, the demise of the solar power industry is not only greatly anticipated, it is greatly esagerated.

  25. The point is not to save all the players in this or any other sector. Of course Obama tried to and even seeded many more firms run by politicos. A good dose of trimming is in order and afterward you might be able to cite industry averages. Up to that point industry averages have been a mistake or false front.

  26. This dramatizes the ludicrous idea of solar for commercial generation of electricity.
    This on top of the grid stability issue. And besides, considering the total life cycle (manufacturing, installation, maintenance, administration, removal, etc.) solar (and wind) results in a net energy LOSS. Renewables can not exist without energy input from somewhere else.

    • See:
      “Most of Germany’s coal-fired power stations were not even operating on Sunday, April 30th, with renewable sources accounting for 85 per cent of electricity across the country,” he said. “Nuclear power sources, which are planned to be completely phased out by 2022, were also severely reduced.”
      Now, its fair to say that demand was low over the Mayday weekend in Germany, but also what electricity there was was 85% from renewables. Did the grid collapse at 85% renewables?

  27. The claim that wind/solar accounts for 11 percent of electricity produced is almost certainly a figure provided by the never-tell-the-truth renewable industry. It most likely refers to nameplate capacity
    (which the renewable crowd ALWAYS quotes, in order to mislead), which often has little relationship to energy produced. Solar nameplate capacity of 100 MW will generally yield roughly 20 MWs of actual power, and 100 MW of wind will generally yield 20MW to 30MW of actual power, depending largely upon land based vs ocean based units, which is assuming the more productive wind areas. A nuclear plant typically produces over 90% of its nameplate capacity, as do baseline gas and coal plants.

    • What’s more, if a fossil fuel power plant is running at a low capacity factor, it’s generally because of low or intermittent demand. That is good.
      Wind and solar run with low capacity factors because of intermittent supply. That is bad.
      When a power plant runs at a low capacity factor due to fluctuating demand, that’s evidence of an advantage: it’s a plant which is highly responsive to demand changes, so suppliers can ramp it up and down as needed. That increases the value of that plant and of the power which it generates.
      When a power plant runs at low capacity factor due to fluctuating supply, that’s a problem. As you’ve written elsewhere, Arthur, it “toxifies” the grid. It decreases the value of that plant and of the power which it generates.
      Nuclear provides very reliable, steady supply of supply, but it is slow to ramp up and down in response to demand changes. So it’s a particularly lousy match for solar & wind.
      Hydro has a different sort of intermittency. It is responsive over the short term (hours), so it can go a long way toward fixing some of the problems caused by wind and solar, but it can have intermittency issues in the longer term (months/years), due to droughts.

      • While it is physically possible for hydro to ramp up quickly, it sometimes isn’t practically possible.
        I remember reading about a hydro dam in N. Georgia. The area below the dam had become a popular recreation spot. The dam was required to start sounding sirens one hour prior to increasing the amount of release from the dam in order to give everyone time to get out of the river before the waters started rising.

  28. Solar panels are great for marketing. Maverick convenience stores are showing on a power company ad how they are soooo environmentally friendly that they put up thousands of dollars of solar panels to save money on their electric bills and save the planet. (Yes, they still sell gas, but you’re not supposed to notice that.)
    I forsee panels existing as far into the future as marketing departments can push them. It may be naive to think solar panels are for energy production when it appears they are probably a marketing tool.

    • They may have put up thousands, but so did taxpayers, and ultimately, ratepayers as well. As soon as those subsidies go away, poof, there goes Big Solar, up in smoke.

  29. Renewables only exist thanks to cheap oil, cheap steel, cheap concrete, subsidies and the erronous believe that the planet and the the future of our children are at risk if we continue the use of….cheap oil. Idiots.

  30. “Does large scale solar grid generation get subsidies in the USA? How much as % of wholesale price to grid? Is it compulsory? ”
    I do not think anyone answered Brian’s question.
    Like I said earlier, solar is Mickey Mouse. It is too small too worry about. There are token federal subsidies and unobtainable state mandates. If solar was viable, it would be by now.
    I have been watching solar for over 30 years years. The best I could tell solar is about the photo op. A the nuke plant I worked on in California, the PV farm was in the foreground and the containment building in the3 background. I never got called in to work to keep the solar panel pumping out power.
    Read the annual report for any utility with solar. Lots of information about generating cost of everything else but no info about solar.
    Mandates are political. Politicians do not really care about performance.

  31. I just scanned the comments, but it seems to me the big scandal of PV technologies is buried in the following excerpt:
    “The building has been vacant while an effort to remove hazardous waste left behind by Abound was tied up in insurance claims court.”
    How many PV environmental disasters have already been subsidized by previous administrations? CO2 is a pollutant, but PV technology is “clean”???!? And it doesn’t begin to tell the story of what is happening in certain areas of China.

  32. I think one of biggest obstacles to solar and electric cars is that then tend to be self defeating.
    What I mean is that if more people move to solar and electric cars this will reduce demand of oil and gas. With reduced demand, prices fall for oil and gas, making people less likely to buy an electric car or install panels.
    An electric car might make sense as a commuting car or a car in a place where gasoline is heavily taxed. A gasoline tax is in fact a subsidy to electric cars.

    • Greens wouldn’t be happy even if everyone commuted to work in golf carts. Or even if they worked from their homes electronically.

      • Green elites will drive their $100,000 Tesla to work, if they don’t go by limo. They want YOU to take the bus.

  33. Here in Virginia, in a sickening display of virtue signalling, Dominion Power is building a large 20 MW peak PV array south west of Washington DC to allow the greens to witness their piety.
    Except one problem. Virginia gets large hail from severe thunderstorms with high winds and the plant is in the historical track of severe thunderstorms coming down from the mountains to the west.
    The entire plant was recently seriously damaged, nearly destroyed by severe hail, and must be rebuilt before it was even finished. There was not a single news article on this debacle. ZERO. Dominion continues to tout the solar plant as “operational” when in fact, it is down. Potemkin villages need green power.

    • Please don’t demand an actual production. Capacity is all that counts. I hope Mr. Trump is listening.

    • How does McDonald’s compete with a little girl’s Saturday morning lemon aid stand?
      Answer: By being open after the little girls bed time.
      Duke Energy is a world leader in making electricity. If you have a contract with them, they will deliver the power.
      I checked JinkoSolar web site. They claim to be a world leader but failed to mention how much electricity they make.
      China has achieved world dominance in ping pong. We can let them solar panels that do not work too.

  34. The gauntlet continues in 2018 when First Solar undercuts the low cost, zombie Chinese firms in both panel cost and BOS system costs with new tech rolled out in volume and good rate of rerurn. The bankruptcies are only beginning now. The rooftop guys have reached peak scam and will be in decline.

    • “…The rooftop guys have reached peak scam and will be in decline…..” +1 the low hanging fruit consisting of those wealthy enough to make the significant investment with questionable total return is gone. All that remains are those that require it and can genuinely take advantage of the technology….. very few.

        • Buying PV is actually more cost efficient if you can . Leasing gotchas are numerous and my cynicism flag waves “if it sounds to good to be true it probably isn’t”. If you plan/must sell during the lease period it becomes an added burden controlled by the lessor. You never have equity in the system (might not be a bad thing). Contracts are designed for their profit, not yours so be aware of escalations. Maintenance agreements beyond warranty and accidental damage are written for the lessor’s advantage. Install subsidies go to the lessor and electricity sell back rates can’t/won’t last forever and in fact are drying up. I’m not against roof top PV because in the right environment they are definitely and advantage if your usage continues to take advantage of the technology. Got a roof that you’ll keep for 20 years and an electric car and use/need a lot of AC? It’s probably a good deal for you.

          • You said that “buying PV is actually more cost efficient if you can.” That is a generalized statement that is true for some homeowners and not true for others. First of all, not all leases are created equal. Most leases are crap. In fact, most solar companies are crap. Look up SunPower’s lease and get your facts straight before you lump all solar leases into one category. I implore you to find another company that matches SunPowers 25 year bumper to bumper warranty.
            Not all homeowners qualify for finance options. So for some its not even an option. There are also times where the lease ends up being a lower monthly payment than the financing option. With SunPower, the system and warranty all transfer with a sale. Yes, the buyer has to qualify with their credit but with a lease its a lower requirement making a lease actually easier to transfer in the event of a sale. Most anyone buying a home has decent credit though anyways.
            Sell back rates are under .05 cents per Kw but you can roll over any excess power your system produced to the next year which will help with degradation.
            Also, if a homeowner doesn’t need the 30% tax credit that comes with the cash or finance option, SunPower will absorb that tax credit for you and structure the lease around that lower system price. This is a big reason why leases are so popular.

          • OK, I have read your comment twice, and the final conclusion is the only way “solar power” can work is if you suck people into a “scheme” to defraud tax payers. It fails unless you steal money from everyone else. And you stand there, puzzled Alfred E Newman expression plastered on your face, and wonder why everyone calls you liars and thieves? Here is a hint, you are liars and thieves. Stop stealing my money, and shut the f*ck up.

      • 2hotel9, “solar power” has worked ever since they began installing glass windows on the south sides of buildings in cold climates.

        • Which can be done WITHOUT stealing money from tax payers. “Solar” is failure unless tax dollars are used to “subsidize” it. Stolen money.

  35. With all due respect, this article lacks consciousness and true solar education. As someone who actually works in the California solar industry, let me shed some light as to why solar companies are downsizing and filing bankruptcy. I’d like to distill down the current symptoms mentioned to the root causes of this industry’s volatility.
    In short were being screwed by two things here in California… cheaply-made, toxic, conventional Chinese panels and Greed. I’ll start with the conventional panels.
    In this article he writes…
    “I believe the suggestions that China are dumping solar on the US market are credible – though if China wants to save the world by subsidising cheap solar for everyone, who are we to say no?”
    Do you have any idea how many toxic chemicals go into making Chinese solar panels? So that would be the opposite of saving the world. Now I’m not going to speak for every single Chinese panel manufacturer but a majority of Chinese panels that are being imported and slapped on faithful California homeowners roofs are straight toxic to the earth. Look it up for yourself.
    On top of that, they rarely work longer than 5-10 years because they are made with a focus on profit instead of quality. Now do you see why so many solar companies are suffering and going out of business? Even the good solar companies are suffering because they have to compete with the cheap conventional panels. Is it ironic that the Governator launched our million solar roof initiative in 2006 and were now just over 10 years later. These conventional systems are failing and have been for years now just like a lot of solar companies. Like they say, a company is only as good as their product. We have clients that have been screwed over financially. They got sold on some conventional panel system years ago. Once their systems failed, the ones with warranties found those companies out of business. This leads to my next point of greed.
    Companies are willing to trick homeowners into buying their solar systems because they are “cheaper.” Tricky salesmen know full and well that the homeowner is going to have a huge true-up bill with their electric utility 1 year after install. They also figure out that the warranty they sold that homeowner on were upheld by an outsourced panel producer that is no longer in business.
    Man, I have to go to bed. ahhh forget it I’ll just start my own solar blog so people can actually learn the truth. In short though I believe the volatility is going to continue as more and more systems fail. I sure hope people stop buying conventional panels.
    [Once that solar blog is started, let us know its address and ID. .mod]

    • One thing I’ve noticed with green warriors. They actually believe that profit is a dirty word.

      • It’s a ‘Holier than Thou’ thing – the indication being that their own motives are pure.
        I call it self-indulgent, self-centered, elitist snobbery, but that’s me.

      • Don’t speak for me. Profit is a beautiful thing when it actually profits the parties involved. In this case the companies are profiting and the homeowners are getting screwed.

    • This is typical lobbyist/protectionist fraud argument and citing toxicity of this or that Chinese product is the dead giveaway for it.

  36. This is what happens when government tries to micromanage a market – forcing technology on the public before it’s ready, rather than simply allowing it to evolve.

    • Yes, and in so doing the public also did not pick up on the fact that the industry leaders were ignored in the all the grants, loans, and other support efforts of DOE etc. The only time the Obama cabal used these sector leaders was in citing industry averages for industry gains and financial program performance as a way to hide the pathetic lot hidden within.

  37. Before it’s ready? There’s solar companies that have been producing quality solar panels for over 30 years with no bankruptcies. Why would we stay on fossil fuels when we have better options now?

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