Panel makers are primed for a wild but winning ride

Jul 30, 2008 | 01:24 PM |

Solar panel makers and distributors have to endure a lot of uncertainty in their business. Government subsidies for solar installations, raw material shortages and consumer demand are all unpredictable.

But that's par for the course for an immature market, according to Gary Gerber, president of Sun Light & Power Co., Berkeley, Calif., which purchases modules from various manufacturers and installs the systems for customers.

A shortage of silicon constrained the number of solar cells and panels that could be manufactured, but the situation has eased in the past couple of years, he said. Now, a new supply glitch has surfaced—not from silicon shortages, but from an unusually high number of modules being sent to Spain because of uncertainties over whether the country's feed-in tariff will be extended. The problem should be short-lived, though, Gerber said. ....

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