CA-based firm: 14 new solar panel factories in two years – none in USA

Tom Friedman clearly lays out what a place like NB (and Canada) needs to do if we want to seriously develop solar energy as an economic development driver. 

Applied Materials maintains a real-time global interaction with all 14 solar panel factories it’s built around the world in the last two years. Not a single one is in America. Let’s see: five are in Germany, four are in China, one is in Spain, one is in India, one is in Italy, one is in Taiwan and one is even in Abu Dhabi.

Why are there five in Germany, etc. and none in the USA?

The reason that all these other countries are building solar-panel industries today is because most of their governments have put in place the three perquisites for growing a renewable energy industry: 1) any business or homeowner can generate solar energy; 2) if they decide to do so, the power utility has to connect them to the grid; and 3) the utility has to buy the power for a predictable period at a price that is a no-brainer good deal for the family or business putting the solar panels on their rooftop.

We got somewhat lucky with UMOE Solar – assuming that formally goes ahead.   I know that Ontario is offering to buy solar power at a profitable rate from suppliers – I am not sure if they have extended this to homes and businesses.

Even with wind and other renewable energy sources – it is not as simple as trying to attract manufacturers here.  It has to be tied to a firm commitment to grow local usage and to be creative with the electricity grid.

7 thoughts on “CA-based firm: 14 new solar panel factories in two years – none in USA

  1. Certainly an ideal company for NB. WHERE can we buy some stock?


    SANTA CLARA, Calif., August 11, 2009 — Applied Materials, Inc. today reported results for its third fiscal
    quarter ended July 26, 2009. Net sales were $1.13 billion, and the GAAP net loss was $55 million, or $0.04 per
    share. The company also reported a non-GAAP net loss for the period of $2 million, or breakeven per share.
    “In a difficult environment, Applied improved its operating performance and generated significant
    cash flow while making substantial investments in new technologies for next-generation semiconductor chips,
    flat panel displays and solar panels,” said Mike Splinter, chairman and CEO.

    GAAP Results
    Q3 FY ‘09 Q2 FY ‘09 Q3 FY ‘08
    Net sales $1.13 billion $1.02 billion $1.85 billion
    Net income (loss) ($55 million) ($255 million) $165 million
    Earnings (loss) per share ($0.04) ($0.19) $0.12

  2. > the three perquisites for growing a renewable energy industry

    Interestingly, this is something the NB government could do relatively inexpensively, and this would free up room for a great deal of private sector activity in (small-scale) power generation that would (in the end) feed into the North American grid.

    We should be encouraging the NB government to get moving on this.

  3. Well David, if you are accompanying the contingent that is going to pitch the Northern Renaissance idea to the province, you have yet another recommendation to make.

  4. In short they are talking about net metering. While NB ‘technically’ has net metering, I don’t think anybody has actually done it. I looked for information and NB Power had to send me a brochure, they didn’t even have a website. Ontario has net metering, but ‘the fix is in’ since there is an upper limit of what they will purchase, which means its never economically viable to do it as a business. Now, why would a province desperate for energy have an upper limit on what they would purchase from small to medium producers? And New Brunswick’s limit is half that of ontario’s, meaning there is no real inducement to do it ‘as a business’, but only as a homeowner who wants to opt out of their hydro payment.

    As mentioned, this is VERY easy to do, the hard part is the political angle. If such a thing became popular, then the need for large scale energy projects would be extremely limited. A household can easily be ‘off the grid’, particularly a rural household. Which means essentially politicians don’t want to see this. So again, it falls to people to make the noise necessary to get a public policy that actually benefits the region. Environmental groups have lobbied for it, and were at least successful enough to get net metering-not all provinces have it. But you can see Irving and NBHydro’s sticky fingers all over NB’s energy policies. It takes a lot of protest to untangle those tentacles.

  5. Now this is progress.

    Sean Adams says connectivity isn’t just a luxury in this digital day and age – it’s a necessity.

    Enlarge Photo submitted photoTim Poirier, a Red Ball Internet operations team member, installs an iBurst receiver in a vehicle. This device enables fully secure, mobile connectivity to the Internet for the company’s products. The chief marketing officer for Red Ball says his company is looking to further the perks of that network by broadening the possibilities of wireless Internet around our cities, in our vehicles, on our cameras, and more.

    “We do not focus on creating mobility solutions for laptops or handheld devices, other companies already do that,” he said.

    The Moncton-based company instead uses its exclusive Canadian rights to a telecommunications technology called iBurst (distributed internationally by Japan’s Kyocera corporation) in the hopes of helping clients connect nearly any device anywhere. The company has towers in both the Hub City and Fredericton, offering an alternative to the local Fred-eZone.

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