Time is the primary difference between a fad and a trend. Fads are fleeting. Trends develop over time altering behavior in some relatively permanent fashion. The adverb relatively is used as permanence has become, over time, far less permanent. Fads ebb and flow more quickly than trends. The best way to tell the difference, unfortunately, is in hindsight.
For example, the European feed-in tariff (FIT) model is responsible for jump starting the utility scale (or multi-megawatt) application for solar technologies. The initial highly profitable FITs attracted investors who, forever in pursuit of the holy grail of safe investments, encouraged demand and supply side solar participants to build ever larger installations. Initially, many long time solar participants believed that demand for multi-megawatt installations (particularly for PV) would reach a peak and decline, likely along with the profitable FITs. Instead this trend appears to be here to stay – for better or worse, or, for profit or not-so-profitable. Another example, turnkey equipment sales, appears to have been a fad that faded away relatively quickly – that is, in solar years. Just as dog years are longer than human years and often used as a metaphor for the slow passing of time, solar years are also longer than human years. To gauge the length of a solar year observe announcements and the accompanying timeline creep from announcement, re-announcement and fruition.
Turn the page to see five potential trends and the likelihood of continuation or cessation: