Quantfury Daily Gazette
Ecology alongside economics
In the middle of the Argentine summer, the heat can be oppressive, especially at certain times of the day. And if we add to that the frequent power cuts that occur in Buenos Aires and the interior of the country, daily life can become quite complicated. It is a delicate situation, especially considering that energy rates have risen sharply in the last year. We are in a context of high inflation and supply difficulties for different reasons, such as the war in Ukraine. These problems, however, are commonplace in the country, affecting the health and well-being of thousands of people.
Many residential, commercial and industrial users will be the main ones affected by the sharp increases in energy tariffs. The need for a change in the electricity paradigm is evident, and far from having a pessimistic view, I would like to focus on certain aspects that could positively reverse the current scenario. I am going to focus on solar panels as an alternative, and in particular on a company that leads the American market but could soon compete head-to-head with the monopoly of the Asian giants. I am referring to First Solar Inc (NASDAQ: FSLR). Founded in Arizona in 1999, it has experienced record growth despite its young age, to the point of becoming, in 2009, the first company entirely dedicated to solar photovoltaic energy to be included in Wall Street’s technology indexes.
Renewable energies will have to play a fundamental role in developing strategies to generate savings, self-sufficiency in homes and, at the same time, greater care for the environment through the use of clean energies. This is where First Solar Inc (NASDAQ: FSLR) has a competitive advantage beyond the purely economic context of the large economies of Western countries. Its projects are totally focused on minimizing environmental impact and maximizing pollution-free energy production. The company’s systems were designed to generate electricity without the use of water, without CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions and without waste generation. The panels are made of a thin film based on Cadmium Telluride, which does not depend on Silicon, thus lowering costs to the point of being as cheap as conventional electricity itself.
On the other hand, significant changes are currently taking place – even geopolitically – and there is a strong trend towards offshoring solar manufacturing, thanks to an increased focus on energy security. In the United States, for example, a production incentive was approved in 2022 as part of the Inflation Reduction Act. This bodes well for a dramatic increase in solar manufacturing in that country. First Solar Inc (NASDAQ: FSLR) is well positioned to take the lead in this shift. Its environmental commitment is combined with a manufacturing process that uses less material than other traditional solar panels, making them more affordable and efficient.
Their products have a higher energy output per surface area than direct competitors, which means they can generate more electricity in less space. Not least, the panels can also increase the value of homes, as homes with them are more attractive to buyers, offering lower tariff costs and an energy source that is empathetic to the planet.
Long gone are the early prototypes of solar cells used in the early 20th century to power large ships. They were unobtrusive models that had to be improved in design to be commercially viable. As they became more sophisticated, they began to be used in space applications such as satellites and spacecraft, where there was no other source of energy available besides sunlight itself. Today, solar energy costs have dropped significantly due to new developments in manufacturing processes, technological advances and economies of scale. In 2000, its price was $10 per watt. In 2014 it was already $1 per watt and was projected to average 10 to 20 cents per watt by 2023.
Renewable and clean energies must be massified and reach all households. Their destiny is, in my opinion, inevitable, and there is no way back. The sun is a pure, noble and abundant resource, and as we learn more about how to manufacture these panels efficiently, they will displace the traditional system until they become part of the daily life of each one of us. That is why I celebrate the drive and tenacity of pioneering companies in the field, such as First Solar Inc (NASDAQ: FSLR), because in a context of economic and environmental crisis, skyrocketing prices and defective performance, they open an encouraging outlook towards a more accessible, friendly, cheap and sustainable world.
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