Sustainable Design for the 21st Century

SOLYNDRA . . . It’s Not a Four Letter Word!

by D. Brent Sauser, Architect

When you see or hear the word SOLYNDRA what comes to your mind:

  • Poster child for all that’s dubious about the Green Building movement?
  • Technology that wasn’t quite ready for prime time?  Or,
  • Ground zero for wasting hundreds of millions of tax-payer dollars?

I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit what now is a vast, empty carcass of what was an up and coming solar technology, and ultimately ended up in a death spiral of congressional investigations and conservative talk show chatter.  There are more questions regarding where the tax-payer money went, than why this leading edge technology didn’t take off as anticipated.

Regardless of what comes to your mind regarding Solyndra it is important to note that solar technology is continuing to advance in a wide variety of ways that result in systems of higher efficiency and lower cost per watt.  With or without huge infusions of tax-payer “stimuli” solar technology will continue to provide an increasing assortment of cost effective options that contribute to a Net Zero solution.  Considering the current economic state of affairs . . . it might be best for the federal government to look for ways to reduce spending and leave the high-tech innovators to work out the “bugs” of solar technology in their own due time.  Throwing a lot of money at something does not always result in an accelerated improvement to solar technology.  Money is not the universal answer to all problems.  Some things just take time.

There are many lessons learned from the demise of Solyndra.  The lesson I want to emphasize is that we should not throw out all the well thought out, leading edge, solar technology with the political bathwater.  We learn from our mistakes and move on.  Let’s move on together.

Category: Editorial
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