Solyndra’s demise is continuing to have ripple effects throughout the solar energy industry. Just last week, the FBI raided the company’s Fremont, CA headquarters further ratcheting up the political fall out over Solyndra’s bankruptcy. With the public and Republican opponents focused on the Obama administration’s role in approving a $500 million loan to Solyndra, the solar industry is getting all the wrong types of press.
The solar industry has fought for so long to put in place the right federal and state incentives to help the U.S. solar industry grow. Now there is deep concern that the Solyndra mess will have adverse consequences on the industry. Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, notes that public approval for solar in the U.S. is around 90% but he’s still concerned, “To have a negative story come out about solar and for it to receive so much press when there’s so much positive news in the industry is a little bit distressing.” And according to Politico:
Tim Greeff, policy director at the Clean Economy Network, a coalition of clean-technology businesses, said the wind and solar companies have been handed excessive political baggage that they didn’t ask for. Environmentalists and political officials are to blame for making economic predictions about green jobs that were never possible, he said.
Republicans and the President’s opponents appear to piling on but so far have steered clear of attacking the solar energy industry per se. Instead they’ve focused on the President’s role in Solyndra and his handling of the economy. In fact, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich were among the GOP presidential candidates eager to sign a wind turbine blade last month stationed outside a debate hall in Ames, Iowa.
While criticism of the President may not subside any time soon, it is likely that the solar industry will ultimately come through such troubled times relatively unscathed. The U.S. solar industry continues to grow at a rapid rate, tnstallation prices are continuing to come down and more consumers are beginning to catch on to the enormous economic advantages in solar. So as the dust settles, it is likely that the Solyndra situation will be remember more as an example of government favoritism run amok as opposed to a deep flaw in the solar energy industry as a whole.