Solar Shakeout Gets Scarier

I don't know about you, but I'm beginning to find the ongoing solar shakeout not merely disconcerting but positively scary. The latest solar victim, announced at the beginning of this week, is Germany's Q Cells. Just four years ago it was the world’s leading manufacturer of photovoltaics, and for two years after that it was high up in the top global ten. Then, middle of last year, as reported here, Q Cells had to lay off half its employees and radically restructure--a death rattle, it turns out. On Monday Q Cells announced it would be filing for bankruptcy.

If now, on top of brutal competitive from low-cost Chinese manufacturers and shrinking rich-country solar subsidies, oil prices were to take a plunge (as predicted by a minority school of thought among petroleum market experts) what was supposed to be the most sustainable of energy technologies may turn out to be utterly unsustainable.

The Q Cells headquarters building loomed rather prominently in Berlin's relatively low-rise skyline, which prompted me to snap the photo above during a visit to Berlin last October, with a feeling of foreboding.

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