Where does profit and loss really fit in? Can we make the world a richer place by doing things just a little differently?
A recent article by Doug Young reported that some solar pv manufacturers are now losing money. They are pouring money into bigger and bigger manufacturing facilities, and battling it out in what everyone admits is a very tough marketplace. The other challenge is that there is still a HUGE community of shareholders who don’t know sod-all about what is really important and are constantly banging their fists about greater profits. If you don’t know how I feel about this, read my book, Hey Grandpa!
Back to my rant … is this an outward manifestation of an inward opportunity to move from massive centralized manufacturing to distributed manufacturing? Does this provide a reason to take another step towards Democratizing Access to Energy?
Here’s the idea …
Building Solar Photovoltaic Panels Locally
Instead of trying to build “The BIGGEST (fill in the blank) FACTORY IN THE HISTORY OF HUMANKIND, what if we (a state, a university, a company, people, consortium of many) were to work together and design a PV Manufacturing Facility that could broken down, shipped in containers and assembled on site?
At first blush, it seems (al2m) that there could be several benefits to this approach. I should probably confess that the world will be a better place if we democratize access to energy, and I don’t think it is entirely necessary to maximize profits on everything that we build.
As a matter of fact, if The IRON LAW is correct, i.e. economic growth and access to energy are inextricably linked, then I believe a powerful moral, social, ethical and economic argument exists for getting as much energy into the hands of as many people as possible. If this runs contrary to the interests of some big concerns … well … that is what disruption and creative destruction is all about.
- These facilities would be able to produce PV panels that could be sold to the local population, including homes and businesses. Under ideal circumstances, the panels could be sold at cost — under the supposition that making energy available to everybody in the region lifts the standard of living for all, and thereby benefits everyone.
- Local students could work at the factory, and learn the technology. There is no doubt that they would come up with improvements, which could ripple throughout the world, or at the very least, the network of other such facilities.
- There are most certainly other benefits … not the least of which is annoying the rich and powerful … which is an end unto itself! Don’t-cha-know (which was a favorite expression of my Grandmother’s).