There has been a lot of talk about the outlook of the solar energy industry as of late, and Northfield Automation Systems is a big part of that conversation. Two Minnesota commerce publications, FedGazette and Finance and Commerce Magazine, recently published articles discussing the ups-and-downs, or “solar-coaster,” that the photovoltaic (PV) solar panel production industry has been facing.
The issue at hand is the ebb and flow of demand for PV panels, which is at the mercy of the economy as well as state legislatures. The late-2000s recession saw a boom in production due to the low cost of materials paired with the tax breaks given for installation of panels. As the economy has begun to recover, however, material prices are rebounding, making the panels more and more expensive to produce. In some states, changing legislative priorities have caused governments to drop rebate programs that appealed to consumers and businesses.
Without the incentive of tax breaks and with rising panel prices, consumers are seeing fewer short-term financial advantages to installing PV panels to meet their electricity needs. The cost of electricity via coal, natural gas, or wind energy remains inexpensive, tempting fewer buyers to install PV systems. As a result, the solar industry is currently seeing less rapid growth.
Economists are saying that the future of the solar industry lies in government support and the further development of PV technology. Northfield Automation Systems is leading the way by combining their 75 years of roll-to-roll thin material handling experience with PV cell solar technology. By developing and building equipment capable of printing the PV cells onto thinner and less expensive materials, Northfield Automation Systems has simplified the production process and made it more cost effective. This advancement in efficiency is the boost that struggling solar companies are looking for.
“I can sell you essentially a turn-key factory,” says Darin Stotz, Northfield Automation Systems’ sales and marketing director. The equipment is capable of cutting, printing, and coating the PV cells on thin sheets of metal, as opposed to a glass surface. Companies that purchase Northfield Automation Systems’ PV printing equipment not only have the independence of manufacturing their own panels, but save money and time, giving them the edge they need to stay afloat during a time of slower economic growth.
For more information on custom PV panel printing solutions, please contact us.