The “solar coaster” is not the newest daytime ride at six flags, but a term for the cyclical ups and downs of the solar industry. Like many other industries, market forces cause the costs for solar equipment and installations to vary. But unlike other industries, incentives and regulations that apply to clean energy create an additional layer of uncertainty and variability. Over the past 16 years I’ve witnessed three big up and down cycles in the solar industry. The only prediction I can make about the next one is that it is inevitable.
The good news is that the long term trend for the future of the residential solar industry in the U.S. — and worldwide — is very favorable. The bad news is that during these downswings company profitability suffers, jobs are lost and some technologies are orphaned. Although painful, these changes are typical in every fast-growing industry.
Please Listen Up to this week’s Energy Show on Renewable Energy World as we welcome back Paula Mints, one of the solar industry’s’ best known market researchers. We will be talking about what it takes to make the solar industry profitable, and how companies can build their businesses around profitable, albeit slower, growth.