I agree that this is hard. The fundamental question is whether you believe the technology exists to solve these problems cost effectively when the Governments are paying $0.50/kWh and having enormous balance of payments problems in terms of their hard currency.
I think that RMI and CWR have proven that the technology exists. Now we have to see if the Govts have the will power to do more than just a 1 MW solar pV system, but instead integrates other renewables, storage, electric vehicles, and other essential components.
Agree made this case in Oct 2012:
The renewable energy industry is a big tent. We recently added the Tea parties of Georgia and Wisconsin. The challenge with Nuclear and Renewables being friends is that Exelon and others that are in the nuclear power plant ownership business have recently seen profits fall as more low variable cost renewable energy has decimated wholesale power prices. They are so unhappy that Exelon is actively lobbying against the wind PTC to slow its deployment. Friends support each other. Right now it's nuclear's turn to show the renewable energy industry the respect it rightly deserves for deploying over $40B in new power projects each year for the past 3 years just in the USA -- $200B annually around the world.
I find this point of view and others that try to sound smart misinformed. Lets me clear about a few things:
1) Solar and Wind had their best year ever last year -- 62% of all new capacity additions to the US grid so Natural Gas is having no perceptible impact on wind/solar...only on Coal and old Nuclear
2) Everyone hates NG for power generation. Utility CEOs have been publicly quoted saying they do not want to replace coal with gas. Why? Because their PUCs refuse to let them hedge gas into the future to eliminate the persistent volatility in the gas costs. Look at Texas, some of lowest rates in the country when they deregulated, then in 2008, top 10 highest costs in the country. Now they are back down and rates are too low for the poor NG industry so they are going to subsidize gas.
3) Very few new gas plants are being built, the 400GW of existing gas capacity was built before 2001 by Enron and others. Folks were shifting from coal to gas, but that was simply by using these old plants. Today that shift is going back to Coal because gas crossed the $3.50/mmBTU threshold.
4) Using gas to back up renewables is very expensive. Renewables are predictable so we don't need such an expensive back up resource. We know through weather data how much we will need and when the day before and at least 30 minutes before. Because of that we can use much cheaper demand response and load control. In some small instances we could use storage. The main thing we should mandate is 15min of storage on all new solar and wind above 10 MW so that they can cut off the sharpest edges of our intermittency -- tiny increased costs.
We don't need to encourage NG to act as a bridge. Neither the renewable energy industry nor utilities want this either. Why is it we let folks that are so misinformed create their types of opeds? NG has 400GW of existing capacity from pre-2000. There is no reason to prematurely dismantle this infrastructure. But like in earlier days it should run as few hours as possible and we should certainly not build more of it to serve in this "back up" role.
NG does has places where it can help. Distributed Generation would be a great use for NG, cogen type stuff. Another great use would be to convert diesel trucks to clean burning NG to reduce health impacts immediately.
This is counterproductive. No matter how these cases are decdied, neither US nor Europe will get a boost in local manufacturing. What is happening is that the Chinese have already started to ramp down industrial support (as have Ontario and Germany). Many Chinese mfg will go out of business, but even after that we will still have 20-30GW of oversupply. The Koreans or other country will step in and try to buy the mfg marketshare at a very low cost and the cycle will repeat itself.
If the US and Europe want mfg they have to do more than ask for it and penalize the Chinese. Germany got mfg because they paid 50% rebates for it in East Germany. Today with module prices where they are, many studies have shown that co-locating crystalline mfg at a polysilicon mfg facility can get within $0.05/W of the Chinese. Pretty good.
"1. I am happy to see you acknowledge that the the actions of the Chinese government and companies has been predatory in nature over the last several years. "
I am not admitting anything here. The Japanese took #1 marketshare through industrial policy in 2000, the Germans in 2005, the Chinese in 2007-8, and there will be other "greater fools" in the future. Industrial policy is not illegal and these blunt instruments in trade policy should never be used for these situations. If we actually think that the Chinese are doing something wrong we should solve it through a trade negotiation between Govts. We should not allow a racist Germany CEO to determine trade policy by themself for the whole solar industry. SolarWorld didn't get any Tier 1 players to partner with them in the USA (First Solar, Suniva, MEMC, GT Automation, Applied Materials, etc). In Europe their showing of partners was equally bad.
I care deeply about the solar industry and in the same way that I should not use my power in the industry unilaterally, neither should SolarWorld get credit for betting our future on their own whims.
As the Soviets learned, State planned economies always fail eventually...China is no different. They used to be disciplined about how they worked, only making things people wanted to buy for companies willing to sign long term contracts. Now they are venturing into solar, EVs, batteries, and other things that are more speculative. This didn't work for Japan and is not working for China now. I think you will see that China will run out of patience on all of this money losing business. This is not a China strategy, but a consequence of the local regional corruption run amok that they are now committed to reigning in to protect their fragile economy.
If I offended I apologize, I have visited many of these plants in Brandenburg and Saxony. To be fair, the former East Germany was targeted for these industrial subsidies. But to suggest this is different from China is wrong. China does much to support mfg in many industries, but in solar PV, they did very little from 2005-2007 except for what Germany did. China only stepped in (like many did) to support its industry during the financial crisis. Like the failed US mfg loan guarantees, China now realizes that its subsidies did not work and is working hard to unwind them before they lose even more money.
On the racism charge for Frank Asbeck, I chose my words carefully. He is documented as one. See these:
and this thoughtful analysis: http://www.pv-magazine.com/news/details/beitrag/solarworld-ag-holiday-card-has-santa-flaws_100005500/
You tell me that Frank is not racist. His US division refused to publish the card and distanced themselves from his tactics.
On the Chinese tariff front, I still submit to you that this process where the private sector has the unilateral right to use a legal process to impact country to country relations won't work. The Chinese will retaliate and the German/US mfgs will still go out of business. The only way to solve this problem is with a negotiated treaty which the solar PV industry is finally pushing for. Tariffs are blunt instrument for a complicated problem.
My apology was my sloppy use of 'East Germany'. I make no apology on identifying the pattern of Racism that others have independently documented. I have zero tolerance for this kind of insensitivity in the 21st century.
I disagree again here. US and Germany mfg may go out of business this round because most of them over invested in 2008 when all of us knew the cliff was coming (on solar demand) and suggested to them they not blow their money on expensive new capacity
That being said, brand new plants in the US and Germany are now within $0.05/W of what the Chinese are mfg for if co-located with a silicon fab (see NREL and GTM analysis). if that is the case, this delta is about the same as the shipping costs for solar PV panels and provide the added benefit of not have 6 weeks of wasted shipping time on the water.
Solar is getting so cheap that shipping costs actually are material and I think that by 2017 you will see almost all mfg on the same continent that they will be deployed on to save shipping costs.
Indeed I am, existing non-optimized mfg will fall, future optimized mfg will succeed. Existing will fail in 12-18 months, the optimized new stuff will come on board starting in 2015 or so.