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One of our favorite analysts of the solar scene, Paula Mints, has an interesting piece out today over at RenewableEnergyWorld titled, “Don Quixote, Chasing Unicorns and Treasure Maps in the Solar Industry ” - we recommend it highly.
As she notes, for a long time the solar industry has struggled to be the success that we all kept predicting it would be - and which many of us in the industry desperately wanted it to be - and not just for personal gain. Not surprisingly, when the industry took off:
[I]t seemed as if solar was a no-lose choice. Not a doubter in the crowd — every idea seemed to have merit and even if it did not, merit could be invented. Past struggles were forgotten and the industry moved on to its inevitable and successful future.
But that enthusiasm overlooked the real challenges facing solar, particularly from the established energy industry.
Today, as we face battles with those very entrenched forces, the road ahead is far less sure. Rebates are going away. The 1603 grant program is over and the sunset of the federal ITC is just a handful of years away. “When the odds against solar are tallied, Don Quixote’s quest to change the world as well as a need to believe in magic, unicorns and instant lottery riches seem almost insignificant,” she writes.
So why do we endure? Why do we push forward anyway? Well, it could be that some of us just aren’t very bright and we can’t see the writing on the wall. Or perhaps we are just too stubborn to give up and admit defeat.
But Mints has a better ending:
[T]hey continue developing solar technologies and business models in good times and in the hard times — and the hard times have lasted much longer — because the cause is lofty and the outcome crucial to the health of the planet. It is human nature to wish for a treasure map pointing the way to a successful outcome. It is also human nature to persevere without magic, a treasure map or ensured overnight success, sallying forward with just a lofty and crucial cause to shore up courage.
Let that be the focus for today: on our “lofty and crucial cause” to make the world a better place, one roof at a time. Forward!