Solar energy is a global industry. Proponents view it as a piece of the puzzle in the global effort to address global warming by replacing fossil fuel- derived electricity. Detractors view it as an expensive boondoggle that is not ready for prime time, and may never be. The true situation is too complex to fit into a single sentence, but solar is an emerging industry that will eventually grow to the size of the fossil fuel industry. Limbaugh-style muttering that it will never work, just toss it all into the landfill, simply exhibits ignorance of the most embarrassing variety.
In recent years, global solar suffered from growing pains. Scientific and technical advances caused the price-per-watt of photovoltaic modules to plunge, bringing the cost of solar electricity down to "grid parity", or prices equal to that of fossil fuel, in some areas. On one level, this was a good thing, in fact, an amazing achievement. On the other hand, it also caused an industry wide shake up and consolidation, as cheap solar cells flooded the market and caused some solar manufacturers to go bankrupt, while manufacturers in the USA accused Chinese firms of "dumping" solar cells below cost.
An article on renewableenergyworld.com explains that 2013 was a recovery year for the market.
The demise of solar was overstated- it is still growing, and the growth is likely to accelerate. in addition to the market recovery, the industry is experimenting with various approaches to addressing the chief drawback of solar, that it produces zero electricity while the sun don't shine. the options are many: large batteries, molten salt tanks, of even compressed air tanks.In practice, if solar is part of a regional grid, the need for nighttime storage is overstated. in summertime, the peak load for electricity is going to be the same time of day that solar peaks. Why not use the electrons when you need them?
you may be surprised to learn how deeply Wal-Mart has penetrated the rooftop solar market:
obviously rooftop solar is sort of a win win. You have a roof, why not make some money from it while addressing global warming? rooftop solar finesses the question of land use. Some environmentalists have been critical of efforts to construct solar farms because land used for solar is not available for wildlife. while there is validity to this question, the same criticism could be leveled at road construction, housing construction, farming, etc. Hey, every human land use question eliminates wildlife habitat. why pick on solar power, which is the only item on that list which actually promises any global warming mitigation?
in the interest of full disclosure, I invested a small amount in a Chinese solar company that went belly up in the consolidation. The marketplace can be harsh if you guess wrong in the rapid-growth-and-consolidation phase of an emerging industry. so I am not giving an investing advice, beyond the basic statement: do not bet against solar, because it is here to stay.