Another solar company reaching its failure tipping point

An Investors Business Daily report carries the headline “SunEdison Bankruptcy Whispers Char SolarCity, First Solar, SunPower“:

SunEdison’s (SUNE) inferno continued Wednesday, a day after rumors flared that it might be in debtor-in-possession talks with creditors — often seen as a precursor to a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

In afternoon trading on the stock market today, SunEdison stock was down more than 9%, around 1.35 and near its all-time low of 1.21 touched on Feb. 26. Shares have crashed 96% since July 20, when SunEd announced a bid to acquire installer Vivint Solar (VSLR). …

In happier times, SunEdison was happily boosting President Obama’s renewable energy initiatives — i.e., a big corporation was praising the politician giving it favors. I thought this one from Sept. 9, 2015, was interesting, as it speculated we could be reaching the “Tipping Point” for solar. (Which, as I’ve argued elsewhere, can never happen.)

Solar power has been getting steadily more affordable, and every time the cost drops more people embrace the industry. While towns like Georgetown, Texas have shown that it is possible for American cities to put down fossil fuels and cut greenhouse gas emissions off completely, it isn’t something that’s going to happen overnight.

Indeed, truly, consumers embracing solar energy isn’t something that will happen overnight.

The sun isn’t shining, and no solar is ever being generated then, you see. So “affordable” solar energy will, overnight, be relying on a dispatchable traditional energy source for 100 percent of the electricity generated overnight.

But those five hours in the day when solar is active, it’ll be ready! Somewhat. It still depends on consumer demand. Traditional sources will pick up the slack — and don’t worry, we solar advocates never include backup generation costs when we tell everyone solar is going to be cheaper some day in the near future but just distant enough to keep the subsidies flowin’.

Also, well, it can’t be cloudy.

Jon Sanders / Director of Regulatory Studies

Jon Sanders studies regulatory policy, a veritable kudzu of invasive government and unintended consequences. As director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jo...

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