Big corporations continue to nibble on solar energy, refusing to commit to it as their central strategy but investing intelligently, so they can move in at their own pace.
InnovaLight’s business is evolutionary, not revolutionary. Its business is improving the durability and efficiency of crystalline silicon solar cells, the kind found on many roofs.
Despite not committing much of its attention to the space, DuPont is making real money at it. The company says its sales into the photovoltaic space exceeded $1 billion last year and will be $2 billion in 2014. Sounds like a lot, but when you’re talking about a company with annual sales of $31 billion, it’s not that material.
What REW readers will point out, quite rightly, is that the Innovalight purchase also ties DuPont’s solar future tightly with Chinese solar panel makers like JA Solar and Yingli, both of which have partnerships with the company.
This global shopping spree for greentech is good news for the market. It assures a steady stream of supplies on a global scale, which helps the whole industry grow. It also creates entrepreneurial success stories, people who can become the “serial entrepreneurs” that make our tech industries the envy of the world.
But all these purchases are focused on the back end of the spear, not the pointy end. Corporate America is not innovating in solar or other green technologies. It’s waiting for the entrepreneurs to prove points, then picking up the businesses that result.
The relative success of China in solar is often attributed to government funding or low wage costs, but could it not also be down to the fact that its businesses tend to be the pigs on the breakfast plate, committed, rather than the chickens, who are just involved?