#energy

Todd Woody:

No one is sure how pervasive the problem is. There are no industrywide figures about defective solar panels. And when defects are discovered, confidentiality agreements often keep the manufacturer’s identity secret, making accountability in the industry all the more difficult.

The quality concerns have emerged just after a surge in solar construction. In the United States, the Solar Energy Industries Association said that solar panel generating capacity exploded from 83 megawatts in 2003 to 7,266 megawatts in 2012, enough to power more than 1.2 million homes. Nearly half that capacity was installed in 2012 alone, meaning any significant problems may not become apparent for years.

Important given where this appears to be heading. And that last stat is just insane.

Christopher Mims for Quartz:

All this will encourage yet more homeowners, businesses and communities to buy solar panels as power from the grid gets more expensive. You can see where this is going: The EEI says it could become a feedback loop that eventually wrecks the whole US utility industry, or at least greatly diminishes it.

Eventually, people will only be using the grid as a backup, combining ever-cheaper solar panels with ever more affordable batteries to store the power for when the sun isn’t shining. That’s called an energy transition.

The gist is that as solar panels continue to get cheaper, more people will install and use them. This, in turn, will cause the traditional electric companies to jack up rates to offset the decreased usage (they have pay off long-term plant investments). And that, in turn, will cause more people to buy solar panels.