What's the Latest Development?
China's ability to scale solar power production, thanks to enormous factories and a streamlined process of approving their construction, has made it the world's leading producer. "Today Chinese manufacturers make about 50 million solar panels a year—over half the world's supply in 2010—and include four of the world's top five solar-panel manufacturers." Chinese companies have concentrated their energies on tweaking the production process to create ever-cheaper silicon-based panels.
What's the Big Idea?
Thanks in great part to the Chinese, the production ceiling has been hit and the world market is flooded with cheap solar panels. Many customers see the cost of installation as more burdensome than the price of the panels themselves. "The overcapacity was so great that last fall, Chinese manufacturers had trouble selling solar panels for more than it cost to make them." Tomorrow's solar leaders will concentrate on innovation, developing thin film technology that can absorb sunlight better than silicon.
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