Big Opportunity in Solar Panel Glut

There is an enormous opportunity in front of the world’s entrepreneurs right now, and I’m looking to see who will take it.

The opportunity lies in the current solar panel glut. Chinese factories ran flat out last year, but they couldn’t sell all they were making. They’ve dumped the excess here, and sent prices plunging below production costs.

A lot of people in the space are unhappy about this, but if you can create mass panel demand you can take advantage. It’s true. You can work the numbers and find solar power parity with other fuels right now.

Two reasons for that. First, it’s foolish to assume that fuel costs would stay level in doing your calculations, while panel costs are fixed once you buy and start installing. Second, once you’ve recouped the fixed costs of a panel installation, any additional energy you get is set only against the cost of maintaining the panel. It’s basically free.

I was surprised a few weeks ago to see a solar installation near Atlanta’s CNN Center. Turns out to be a demonstration installed by Ted Turner. Turner also has a deal to place panels near his New Mexico ranch and sell the power to a local co-op.

Turner is making out like he’s Captain Planet, but he’s actually Captain Profit. If you’re placing panels in a parking lot, your land costs are minimal, you’re actually enhancing the value of the lot because you’re shading it, and you collect the power. Anyone with capital can make the numbers work. Money is the only real “gating factor” here.

So do the deal. It’s a steal.


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Dana Blankenhorn has covered business and technology since 1978. He covered the Houston oil boom of the 1970s, began making his living online in 1985, and launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of e-commerce, in 1994. He has written for a host of off-line and online publications including The Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age, and ZDNet. He has covered PCs, networks, telecommunications, cable technology, Internet commerce, the Internet of Things, Open Source and Health IT, He began covering alternative energy at his personal blog,, in 2007.

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