Tucker Ruberti, Director of Segment Marketing, Solar Energy, Advanced Energy
Contrary to what many people hear in the news, the solar industry is quietly riding a hot trend: record low prices combined with incredible growth in a variety of markets. With that in mind, perhaps the number one challenge for the industry overall will be to help fight the misconceptions that still linger around solar and better communicate its successes.
Many inside and outside the solar industry believe it is doomed due to the unfortunate failure of a handful of solar companies. While these companies did teach us some tough lessons, the industry experienced its best quarters on record, creating jobs and driving megawatts of projects.
Solar is doing well for a variety of reasons. First, the cost of PV modules is falling rapidly, which has been bad news for the high cost and least efficient producers, but great news for the rest of the industry. Lower module costs are bringing more buyers onto the scene.
Another important trend is that the secure returns of PV projects have brought in a new wave of money and new financial instruments. The fact that Warren Buffet’s company has come into PV and is securitizing projects is possibly the most important news for the long-term growth of the industry. Costs will continue to be squeezed out across the supply chain in order to achieve the best possible LCOE for project financiers and end users. This virtuous cycle will open new markets, which will drive greater volumes and even lower costs.
With all of that said, the general public, even industry insiders, could stand for a little bit of education on these promising trends. Solar is here to stay for a variety of residential, commercial, government and utility customers.
Tucker Ruberti has worked for Advanced Energy in Bend, OR since 2007 and is currently director of strategic product marketing. He has worked in the energy technology space since 1993 for a broad range of companies including Westinghouse, General Electric, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and IdaTech.