The US needs solar power, but, in order to take full advantage of solar energy, the US also needs local solar power expertise.
The US solar industry used to be quite strong, but then hit a major roadblock in the late ’90s and never recovered.
The pandemic has exposed the fragility of overstretched global supply chains. For a product as important and as sensitive as solar panels, waiting for weeks for components to arrive from China or other countries just isn’t good enough.
Ideally, solar panels and other components would be manufactured locally, in the US.
US consumers and power producers need local support from local companies to fully embrace solar. A new partnership between universities and solar companies is needed to change the US solar manufacturing paradigm and to bring local solar expertise back to the US.
Not only would this give greater assurance of supply, but it would also enable manufacturers to produce solar products that are uniquely suited to US needs.
We believe that university/company collaboration can reinvigorate the US solar industry — and we have the data to prove it!
Universities can bring a great deal of value to the solar industry - not only in terms of research, but also researchers. Professors, post-docs, students and other university researchers can help the solar industry explore new technologies. They can augment solar industry know-how and help companies to rapidly innovate in this area.
We looked at trends in the US, China, and Japan, to show how solar expertise from US researchers could revive the US solar industry.
Solar product development and manufacturing in the US are barely present. The top 3 solar manufacturers are all located in China (1). This means that stretched supply chains can fail to deliver components on time and that solar products aren’t developed with the needs of the US in mind.
Suppose we were able to change that paradigm to instead create locally developed and manufactured solar products— US-focused, US-made. Local development and manufacture would lead to the cultivation of local technical talent and know-how.
So what happened before and how can we change it now?
Check out our full report for a deeper dive — discover why local support for solar power is so important, explore what has happened before, and evaluate how we can change it now.
1) What are the top solar panel companies & manufacturers?, EnergySage News