Monday, September 04, 2006

Three Reasons to Continue Believing in Solar

Red Herring magazine gives us three reasons why we should still believe in solar technology.

Have you doubted it? Well, lots of people are doubting investments in solar, with a few of the flagship companies gone bankrupt (AstroPower, etc.) and also the big price drop of oil lately.

Is solar dead? Red Herring says no. I'll give you their reasoning in short form, for the longer version you can click through to their full article.
  • Reason #1 More government support. More and more governments around the world are anteing up for incentives for using solar power. Germany leads the way, with Spain, Italy and South Korea not far behind.

  • Reason #2 Easing supply bottlenecks. Polysilicon has been a bit scarce, which has caused demand to exceed supply for solar panels, but that it changing. Again, Germany is bringing some big plants online, and the U.S. also has a plant coming in Washington state.

  • Reason #3 Growing demand. Big companies around the world are still ramping up their orders, even with scarce product out there and dropping oil prices. They're not showing signs of backing off.

I'm keeping solar in my stock portfolio. Remember, BP is one of the largest solar panel producer in the world. Other companies leading the way are Shell Solar, GE Solar, Sharp and Kyocera.

And I know what you're thinking. These big oil companies - Shell, BP - are just hording the solar technology so they can put it on the shelf and wait until the oil runs out.

Not so.

This does not match their behavior in this market. They are actively competing for market share and are ramping up their capabilities. BP and Shell are very active in solar and other renewables, while Exxon Mobil and Chevron Texaco lag far behind. It is becoming more and more clear which of these are "energy companies" versus "oil companies." My money goes on the energy companies.

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