Smart Energy Links: Solar, solar, solar (and counterpoint)
For the past three weeks, there’s been plenty of news coverage of problems in the solar power industry, triggered by the bankruptcy of Solyndra after raising about $1B in capital, of which almost over half came from the US government (that’s you and me as taxpayers). The Washington Post has an account of how Solyndra Went on a Spending Spree After Getting Loan.
Megan McArdle, who covers money matters for The Atlantic, wonders How Did Solyndra Spend All That Money? An excerpt: “I don’t think this is going to end up being a story about corruption. I think it’s going to end up being a story about bad decision making: at Solyndra, among its investors, and in the Obama administration. People took large bets with low expected values, because the alternative was admitting that the money they’d already spent was gone, and not coming back. They doubled down, just like some chump who lost his stake at the Vegas blackjack tables.”
However, after this quote appeared in the Editor’s Notes for the Smart Energy Designline newsletter, reader Mike Bandel sent me this link, giving a counter-point to McArdle that appears on the ThinkProgress site.
Also in The Atlantic, The Inevitability of Chaos and Major Losses in Strategic High Tech posits that the technology frontier has always been a turbulent place and Solyndra’s failure “should be neither a surprise or cause for alarm.” Huh. A billion dollars still seems a bit much to gamble and lose.
On a more positive note, researchers have developed a new colloidal quantum dot solar that increases the efficiency of spray-on solar cells to a record 6%. One advantage of spray-on or printed solar power generating surfaces is that its manufacturing facilities generally require a much lower capital investment compared to the silicon foundry-type plant required for traditional solar cells.