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Doom and Gloom, an Overreaction

PV SOCIETY - Undeniably the solar boom that lasted from 2004 through 2008 brought exciting times to the solar industry. Suddenly — seemingly overnight (though an overnight that took ~35 years) — the industry went from futuristic and too expensive to the here and now. The photovoltaic industry became interesting magazine and newspaper fodder. Demand soared and along with it ideas for technologies, products and business models that would bring down the cost (thus price) of the technology and make it affordable for everyone.

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Print September 16, 2009, 08:46 (CEST)
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by Paula Mints , Navigant Consulting (speaker at Global Demand Conference)

After over 30 years of struggling to develop the technology and the industry, these were heady times for all with the caveat that market control switched from buyer to seller, leading to much higher prices for buyers, long-term contracts for all and easy sales for manufacturers of technology.

Driven primarily by the feed-in tariff model of incentives in Europe, optimism reigned and with it forecasts of future demand soared. There seemed to be no way back from success and profit, and no downside to entering as a manufacturer or an investor. The fact that developing technology is complex, time-consuming and expensive, and that the market itself remains incentive-driven and cranky were considered small concerns that could and would be overcome. So what if one market fails? Like magic, a new one would appear to absorb product. After over 30 years of unprofitability, the manufacturing side of the industry began to enjoy positive net income.

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