Friday, December 16, 2005

Solar '70's Retro--not gonna die out this time

Hello future SolarDweller:

You will hear quite a few skeptics out there, saying solar is just going through a "fad" as it did during the last oil shock of the 1970's. The problem with this argument: it's not the same old solar left over from those times. We're looking at several new catalysts:

1) The Energy Department recently reported the following concerning a new era of higher energy prices:

Business Archive
Feds rescind prediction of oil price drop

December 13, 2005


WASHINGTON -- Oil prices are projected to remain well above $50 a barrel for years to come, resulting in a greater shift to more fuel efficient cars and alternative energy sources, according to an analysis released Monday by the Energy Department.

The analysis reflected a sharp change from the department's projections a year ago when it predicted oil prices in constant dollars -- not counting normal inflation -- would decline to $31 a barrel by 2025

Basically--get used to an era of higher energy prices. Note the following quote from the owner of an online alt energy store:
But Sascha Deri, president of the Alternative Energy Store said, "I think it's here to stay this time," he said. "This fuel crisis is not really a crisis, but a permanent change in prices."

2) Solar technology has improved and, as opposed to traditional up-trending energy prices, solar is getting less and less expensive. . .

Boom time for solar energy -- or is it?
Scripps Howard News Service
December 16, 2005

The industry . . . has matured over the last 30 years and produces equipment that has 20- and 25-year warranties guaranteeing it will work. "In the '70s, there was a rush to bring out technologies that were not ready for prime time," he said.

California solar entrepreneur John Schaeffer, who opened his solar store Real Goods in 1978, said the equipment he's selling now is much more efficient and less costly than when he started.
"I think we've broken through the issue of economic viability," Schaeffer said. "With the economics that we are seeing now, I think we can hit the mainstream."

And 3) Today's solar customer is a different customer than the '70's customer . . .

Deri (from the Alternative Energy Store) and his 14 staff members sell solar heaters, windmills and other energy-saving devices through the Massachusetts-based Internet store he launched in 1999. He said business has doubled yearly since he began, and the customer base is changing - it's not just the Birkenstock crowd looking at solar for environmental reasons or for their grid-deprived mountainside second homes, but suburbanites trying to cut their electricity bills.(By LANCE GAY
Scripps Howard News Service December 16, 2005)

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