Factory owners may be hesitant to proceed with previous plans to invest in solar energy due to a recent change in the ideological perspective of the current political environment in the U.S. and abroad. But there is more to technological evolutionary change than surface political changes.
Contrary to popular perspectives, a surprising endorsement has emerged. Elon Musk has recently given his thumbs up to Rex Tillerson, the Exon Mobile CEO recently nominated for Secretary of State by our current president. Yes, the industry leader of electric cars and solar energy, amongst others, is on the side of an individual who was the head of one of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies. What’s going on here? Has the president managed to change the mind of one of the world’s most progressive and transformative energy individuals?
Elon Musk and Exon CEO
Surprisingly, Musk and Tillerson are both on the same page in many energy-related aspects. They both have endorsed the idea of a carbon tax that encourages businesses to invest in sustainable energy and these seemingly diametrically opposed individuals are supportive of ongoing participation in the Paris climate accord which was signed by a total of 127 nations. Elon has actually joined the president’s advisory team and will possibly be working in conjunction with Tillerson to urge the administration to maintain the U.S.’s current position in the accord.
Government Renewable Power Projects
Additionally, in opposition to popular belief, the new administration recently released news of federal acknowledgement of renewable infrastructure projects that include a HVDC transmission line for moving wind power from Oklahoma to the Tennessee Valley Authority, another HVDC line from Wyoming for a wind farm to the southwest U.S. region, and another HVDA powerline transporting 1000MW of renewable energy from upstate New York to the Hudson in New York City. These projects are all moving forward with the issuance of permits and some initial construction under the new administration.
China in Focus
With China investing in a five-year plan that includes the installation of 110 Gigawatts of solar power, the U.S. will need to keep up to be competitive by continuing to invest in renewable energy forms no matter what the political bend. Competition is a huge motivator when it comes to modernization. Unless the U.S. wants to be left in the dark ages, we will be forced to keep up with alternative spending.
Because of anti-dumping laws and anti-subsidy duties in the U.S and Europe that were put in place to gain control over China dumping vast quantities of solar cells a few year ago, significant changes in the industry have developed. The growth of solar cell manufacturers has increased throughout India and southeast Asia and has allowed increased solar manufacturing efforts to flourish. Although the anti-dumping protectionist laws are stabilizing prices in the near-term, it will eventually have an overall effect of increased competition, cell quality and cell efficiency through R&D along with lower prices through competition as time marches on.
Onsite Local Power Solutions
Additionally, the trend towards onsite local power storage solutions is moving forward with Tesla and Panasonic’s partnership Gigafactory in Nevada going online in 2016 set to pump-out 35 gigawatt hours of storage potential by 2018. Not only will this factory be producing cells for Tesla vehicles, but also their Powerwall 2 residential storage and Powerpack 3 commercial and industrial scale power solutions. Additionally, a company called Sunrun is ramping up its BrightBox residential solutions in California for battery storage to residential customers with visions for industrial solutions. These and other companies are developing connections with power utilities to help modernize the county’s energy infrastructure. Solar storage solutions are becoming mainstream and with these storage innovations viable for not only the residential but the industrial factory sectors, growth will increase substantially. From an industrial perspective, backup power for night and cloudy day use is becoming an affordable budgetary option. Combine this with the ability of factories to reserve their stored solar power potential for peak power pricing times and the affordability of storage solutions as an additional means of production cost savings is turning the tide for progressive manufacturing companies.
The world is changing in sometimes seemingly strange ways, but the one thing that will not change is the progress of solar, wind and other forms of sustainable energy no matter what occurs in government circles. Technology marches on and factory owners will always be looking for ways to leverage evolving technology to become more efficient and trim their operating expenses over time. Technology moves forward at an increasing clip and those not embracing it will be left behind in the old model struggling to compete with others who are pressing forward. With solar panels and their interface systems at an all-time low price-point and heading even lower with the push of nation states towards renewable sources, now is the time to consider investment in power from our perpetual, life-giving ball in the sky energy source.