“Just like the advent of cars, washing machines and lately computers, the traditional form of rolling out technology has always seen prices trickle down to more affordable prices and finally reaching the average consumer.”
As manufacturing is scaled up and costs are scaled down, as more and more people adopt which usually brings down the cost for everyone.Nothing would give me pleasure, like seeing solar panels springing up everywhere just like satellite dishes did in the 1990’s. However, we live in an extraordinary circumstances within human history were 7 billion people are competing for scarce resources now.
Unfortunately, the golden age of cheap commodities and cheap energy to forge those commodities are a thing of the past.
Shortages of solar panels minerals predicted
78% of PV (photovoltaic) solar panels manufacturers including large high street names such as Sharp and Sanyo are already beginning to experience higher manufacturing costs because of higher prices for minerals which are necessary for producing such technology.
Rare-earth minerals such as Neodymium, Yttrium, Europium, Terbium and Dysprosium are widely used in the manufacture of wind turbines, electric car batteries, energy-efficient light bulbs and solar panels are becoming increasingly difficult to source in their required quantities.
In addition, those minerals are typically found in China with other sources being acquired-led by the Chinese state, giving China a monopoly with signs the Chinese government is restricting supply and slowing the future growth of the renewable and solar panel industries.
If everyone suddenly decided they wanted solar panels in a big way, there would be crucial supply problems. Worryingly there are not many alternatives.
In the US and EU countries, there have been growing concerns that China now dominates the distribution of those minerals, which are considered essential alternatives for a world over reliant on dwindling oil supplies.
China may decide to prioritise these valuable resources for its own people.
A world were oil flows East
There is no doubt that China and India’s super-fast growth will have progressively larger effects on the world in the 21st century, please allows me some theoretical license to this one.
After watching BBC’s Top Gear on Sunday, with the report regarding China’s blatant disregard for western laws, demonstrated with BMW, the world’s strongest car manufacturer, unable to protect its car designs from Chinese copycats, while the Chinese authorities are telling BMW were to go. This got me thinking about the black stuff needed to run those cars too.
If China can repeatedly infringe and ignore the west in this way, then when the time is right, I have no doubts that secret back room deals will be done with Russia and the Middle East for the remainder of the world largest oil stocks. Food for thought!
The tariff rate are progressively reduced
With all the kerfuffle regarding the feed-in tariffs cut recently, it amazes me how many people were put off by not receiving the higher rate tariff. These people will one day have to install solar anyway whether today or in 2015, 2020 etc.
This one I call the see-saw effect.
With energy industry predictions for home energy costs being twice as high in 2020 and three times higher in 2030. The price of energy is rising unabated. As energy prices rise, so will the number of people installing solar panel technology on one side.
On the other side is the feed-in tariff rate which will continue to be reduced as the higher number of adopters gradually wear away the need for an incentive.
Stuart Lovatt the founder of Heat my Home concludes “The feed-in tariff scheme was always designed to be progressively reduced (just not without warning). So the question anybody seriously considering installing solar panels should be asking; do I install now and earn a higher rate of return or wait for the crowd and risk (A) higher manufacturing costs and (B) low or nonexistent incentive rates?”
This is the competitive world we all now live. Stay ahead of the crowd.
"Feel the pride."
Solar Stu on
Founder of Heat My Home.