"We will enable, help and secure the development of a sustainable future with clean energy supply for our children". Does this sound familiar to you? The websites of the solar investors and sustainable and solar energy funds all declare this great ambition. But, in the end, what counts are the financial numbers. "We need at least 12% ROI on the project. Certainly with all the risks involved". There is this great chorus line, saying "it’s all about the money...".
Better than 2% at your savings account
Have you ever seen a solar fund promoting an offer of a 6-7% guaranteed return on your deposit? It would still be a much better alternative to the 2% on your savings account at the bank, and I bet there is a great future for such an initiative. No one would become very rich, but it would enable solar project developments for private people at a decent return. It would make green and clean solar power development attractive for many people.
The green or the greedy?
Investors could be put aside as greedy people/companies. But the reality is that they accounted for maybe even around 50% of the global market volume and development in the last 10 years. Without the ‘greedy’ investors probably only a handful of large scale projects would have been built. This means the global market demand would have been much smaller. And the market volumes and industry dynamics would have been different. Module and system prices would definitely have been substantially higher. If it was just aimed at the green sustainable-inspired people and customers, the global PV market development would be focused on residential PV applications, on many small PV systems, with just a few exceptions for companies looking for a green image. So, who will help the development of the solar industry and markets more - the green or the greedy people?
Higher returns now lead to quicker competitive prices
The higher the returns offered to investors now, the faster the global market and industry will grow, and the sooner module and system prices will decline due to economies of large scale production; and the sooner green people can buy their clean energy at low prices. Besides this, the investors and financial institutions and banks will get used to solar as an easy, reliable, predictable, trusted, low maintenance technology - a reliable asset with interesting returns. This will be helpful when solar energy becomes competitive and when further market development requires the involvement of big companies, investors and banks.
Global energy hunger
The more investors are facilitated with good returns [RJW1] on their large scale projects now, the faster the industry will grow; and the sooner this will lead to lower production costs and, finally, competitive price systems. Thus, we can sooner reach grid parity where incentives are no longer needed at all. And the investors will have found out that solar PV is a superb, reliable and sustainable asset for further investments, even if the returns are less. They will stay in this growth business because the world’s energy hunger can only increase.
Money makes the PV world go around
Money does not only make the world go round. With solar energy, higher subsidized returns speed up achievement of grid-parity, where government support is no longer needed. A 'quick money shot' with good returns will fire up the PV market and keep it running forever. This 20 year period of FiT-payments will still be ‘nothing’ compared to the incentives, tax advantages and environmental tax exceptions that the fossil fuel industry received over the last 70 years. The PV industry will be like a gasoline engine. The initial ignition takes some (money) fuel. But once it runs, it’s hard to stop. And with solar PV it will never stop as the energy source is infinite and the cost competitive.