n African Journal of Science, Technology, Innovation and Development - Solar energy industry future uncertainty - an opportunity for new markets and refocusing

Volume 5, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 2042-1338
  • E-ISSN: 2042-1346
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The 2012 solar panel pricing war between manufacturers in China, Europe and the USA, accompanied by the sales market slowdown due to government subsidy cuts, has produced uncertainty in the future of the growth of the solar industry. A solar panel glut has resulted. Companies are pressured to push sales to protect their bottom line. Sales goals are not necessarily aligned or tied with those of governments. This may become an opportunity to expand the solar power industry to emerging industrial powers that have been marginally involved. Emerging industrial powers such as Brazil, Australia, Argentina, South Korea, India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Mexico, South Africa and some other African countries are the likely expansion targets. All have plenty of solar radiation, a growing electrical demand and government leaders highly motivated to support solar energy. This paper will discuss the impact of the future expansion of the solar industry led by big business profitmaking interests rather than national needs. Big businesses are focused on centralized solar facilities for large urban areas. This paper shows that they have little interest in projects directed towards small cities or remote rural villages off the grid. In this paper the focus is on solar usage in Africa because on average less than 11% of the population in Africa has access to electrical energy and 25% of the population lives in remote rural areas in sparse populations. African countries are more vulnerable than other developing countries to outside influences because they depend more heavily on foreign finances and technical expertise. Reviews of UN and African Development Bank reports, solar business newsletters and select African energy plans/activities show that often large foreign companies promote and finance energy projects that are not necessarily aligned with national goals and needs. Energy is delivered, but the technology is not transferred.

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