Quoted: Fiery side up — on the state of the solar industry

“We don’t need missionaries anymore. We need mercenaries.”

Danny Kennedy, founder of Oakland-based Sungevity, on the residential solar power industry. Kennedy, a Greenpeace activist turned solar entrepreneur, is featured in a New York Times Magazine piece that looks at the state of solar in the United States. The article’s main point: While institutional money continues to flow into the solar field, the industry continues to have to fight public perception that residential solar power is for “hippies,” as well as deal with the fallout from Fremont-based Solyndra’s high-profile failure last year. (See As sun sets on Solyndra, what’s the forecast for green industry?) Some solar investment is coming from the state’s largest utilities, as the Mercury News’ Dana Hull reported a couple of weeks ago. Another article by Hull last month highlighted numbers that seem to reflect the main point of the NYT Magazine article: Global cleantech investment fell in the second quarter compared with the previous quarter and the same period a year ago. But Sheeraz Haji, CEO of the Cleantech Group, which released the numbers, said, “Despite headwinds facing the sector and global economic instability, we continue to observe top-tier funds … and others actively investing into cleantech.”


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  • Carol Chimera

    i would love consumer solar power! make it affordable!!! if it were more reasonably priced, you’d get more buyers. it really is that simple…

  • Tony

    So is solar a social good but a business loser? Simply can’t ignore the decades required (and subsidies) it takes to get a return on investment.

  • Bazza


    It is affordable. Consumer Solar PV systems are commonplace in Australia and Europe. The power generation companies offer “feed-in” tariffs, so that your domestic surplus is fed back into the grid and you are paid at a higher rate than your consumption is levied at. This offsets the capital outlay to install a domestic solar system, though the scales of economy have brought the purchase prices into the very affordable area already. We recently installed a new 5kw system for just au$8000 and we generate more than we use, so we actually get a cheque from the electricity company every quarter, rather than the other way around.

  • Markus Unread

    If the USA shifted its subsidies from coal, nuclear and oil to renewable energy… Who am I kidding! Solar doesn’t own the government like the other three do.

    By the way, solar is affordable now because the Chinese are dumping panels onto the market in order to help kill off competition. It’s a good time to buy.