If solar industry had a poster child for failure, Solyndra is to solar as Jared Fogle is to Subway.
Yes, solar had its share of flops, failures, and fiascos. Wall Street bashes the solar manufacturers for its low margins, huge debts, and of course, its constant political war different countries around the world.
On top of that, when people think about going solar, they roll their eyes when they see the bottom line: single or barely double digits returns. Those people want what everyone else wants: high returns, low cash outlay, and of course, no management headache.
Right. To those people, I say “dream on”.
Granted that US solar manufacturers like SunPower are eventually going to outsource to countries where the cost of labor makes sense, there are plenty of US based companies making money from solar. Ever hear of SolarCity?
Yes, solar sale & installation is where the margin is made. I know because my company Solar One Media delivers solar leads to them. In fact, there is plethora of solar installation companies vying for the top positions: like Verengo, Petersen Dean, REC Solar, Sungevity, Skytech, etc.
And to those who think that solar returns are too low, I’d like to ask what their returns are for their comparable investments. Real estate? Commodities? Equities? What are they getting?
Solar is the ultimate golden goose. Sure, 8-12% return might be a low yield for some of them, but remember, this is 8-12% per year for every year that the solar system is in place. On top of that, there’s hardly ANY maintenance – there’s no tenant issue like you have with real estate, no marketing or sales issue like you have with companies, and of course, no people to deal with.
It’s the gift that keeps on giving, day in and day out. Whether or not you are home, whether a republican or a democrat wins the presidential election, no matter what the economic conditions are, your solar investment will yield as long as the sun is out.
But ultimately, solar isn’t just about financial investing, but also spiritual investing.
How many of us have seen Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth” and thought “yeah, we gotta do something about this”. And yet, we just sit there and do nothing. Or worse, commute to work in our gas guzzling SUV’s and using that precious water resources to feed our useless lawn that doesn’t produce anything?
It is time to stop beating up solar industry because it is a fledgling industry that’s just starting to bloom. Yes there will be some issues and yes the finances won’t make a whole lot of sense to a big chunk of the population. Remember the early days of internet when 56k dialup service cost $50/month? Well, it didn’t make a whole of sense back then, but look where we are now. Internet is revolutionizing the human race and now most people don’t think twice about getting a high speed broadband service to their homes.
Why not give solar the benefit of the doubt? Unlike some silicon valley companies like Zynga whose job is to extract dollar from you by giving you hours of endless, mindless click-entertainment. Solar companies are changing the world – more solar means less oil we need to import. The less oil we import, the less need for our government to intervene in oil rich but politically turbulent countries. The less we need to intervene, the less need we have for wars. The less wars we have, the more that our sons, fathers, brothers, neighbors, and friends who are in the armed forced get the chance to come home in one piece.
So if you feel the urge to beat up this new kid on the block, please, give solar a chance. Let it grow and see what happens.