The cold hard truth about solar energy is that it is not economically viable, except in specialized, limited and usually subsidized applications. This is despite having Billions of tax-payer dollars fed into the bottomless pit of corrupt science (man-caused global warming) incompetent governments and crony capitalism (Solyndra). So now British Petroleum (BP) has seen the light, figuratively speaking and they're pulling the plug on their solar energy efforts. I could say I told you so.
BP shutting solar unit as industry struggles
3:13 pm ET 12/21/2011 - MarketWatch Databased News
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- After prominently featuring solar panels in its brand advertisements and at some of its gas stations, BP PLC is planning to shutter its BP Solar operation, according to reports on Wednesday.
BP PLC said global economic challenges have impacted the solar industry, making it difficult to sustain long term returns, according to an internal BP email cited by press reports. The move will affect 100 jobs.
BP, which has been in the solar business for decades, had featured solar panels prominently in its Beyond Petroleum advertising campaign.
BP said the solar business, which has been flooded by excess supply from China, has become commoditized.
A phone call and email to BP by MarketWatch was not immediately returned. BP will hold on to other alternative energy businesses, including wind.
BP inked a supply contract with JA Solar in 2010 as it started scaling back its own solar panel factories and trimming jobs.
Sam Wilkinson, senior market analyst of IMS Research said BP's decision comes as global photovoltaic module manufacturing capacity reaches 50 gigawatts, while demand is expected to total only 24 gigawatts this year. Average prices are now 44% lower than they were one year ago.
"Rapid manufacturing expansions have coincided with a slowdown in the growth of global demand," Wilkinson said in a statement emailed to MarketWatch. "The result has been intense competition and a fierce price war, and not enough demand to support all of the industry's hundreds of suppliers."
The move comes just days after First Solar, the only pure-play solar panel maker in the S&P 500 , issued a profit warning for 2012 and said it'll refocus its business toward large-scale utility projects, rather than residential solar panels. See: First Solar falls to lowest level since 2007.