Industry analysts are predicting a massive bout of bankruptcies for hundreds of American solar firms as the market for solar panels, inflated by zealous government backing, begins to cool down.
The fallout could be dramatic, CNN reported Wednesday. “Of the few hundred or so solar panel makers worldwide, just 20 to 40 are expected to remain standing in a few years time, said Mark Bachman, a renewables analyst at Avian Securities.”
“A combination of slack demand and massive oversupply” is leading to rapidly declining prices for solar panels, CNN reports. The supply side of that equation, at least, has been exacerbated by a federal government that gives lavish incentives to startups looking to sell solar panels. Given that solar remains a more expensive alternative to fossil fuels, a lack of consumer demand is perhaps unsurprising.
But the impending bankruptcies of so many solar companies will almost assuredly ensnare companies backed by taxpayer financing. Solyndra was the most high profile federally-backed company to go under. Evergreen Solar also received support from the Energy Department.
Those two will not be the last to go under, analysts say. “Solyndra was just the beginning,” another industry expert said. “We’re going to see a lot of companies go bankrupt.”
PlanetSolar‘s TÛRANOR is currently on its way to becoming the first solar-powered boat to circumnavigate the globe. Driven by a silent, pollution-free electrical engine that is powered exclusively by solar energy, the PlanetSolar team has two goals in mind. The first objective is to show that current technologies aimed at improving energy efficiency are reliable and effective. The second is to advance scientific research in the field of renewable energy.
The world’s largest solar-powered boat has already been to Miami, Cancun, Brisbane, Hong Kong and just made its way to Vietnam. Measuring around 101 feet long and 49 feet wide, the $26 million TÛRANOR can comfortably transport 50 passengers.
The Swiss-designed, German-built ship is powered by over 5,380 square feet of solar paneling. The panels power two electric motors, which can reach 15 miles per hour. The panels can also soak up enough stored energy to power the boat in cloudy weather for three days. The excess energy is stored in a giant lithium-ion battery.
And, in case you were wondering how PlanetSolar came up the ship’s name, TÛRANOR is derived from the “Lord of the Rings” saga by J.R.R. Tolkien and translates to: “the power of the sun” and “victory.”
- Pictures: World’s largest solar yacht, the Tûranor PlanetSolar (digitaltrends.com)
- PlanetSolar Turanor: The World’s Largest Solar-Powered Boat (techeblog.com)
- Sealander Amphibious Camping Trailer Doubles as Houseboat (techeblog.com)
- PlanetSolar: World’s Largest Solar Powered Electric Boat. Green Designs Will Save the World (worldnewsrecord.wordpress.com)
- Green Column: Around the World on Solar Power Alone (nytimes.com)
- World’s largest solar-powered yacht arrives in Hong Kong on home stretch of around-the-world voyage (digitaltrends.com)
- World tour in a solar powered boat. (izitso.net)
- The fall and rise of the electric boat (ravcasleygera.wordpress.com)