In the midst of our excitement about renewable energy, it's important to remember that no business sector is immune to the current financial crisis -- including the solar industry. BP Solar has announced that it will stop producing solar photovoltaic (PV) cells and panels at its Sydney Olympic park plant in March 2009.
The company made the decision as part of a plan to focus operations on large scale plants in countries with low manufacturing costs. The move should help drive down the cost of solar power.
So while BP Solar's decision will probably not be taken well by the 200 people who are losing their jobs with the company, it should ultimately benefit consumers. The plant closure, however, will not lower the cost of solar panels.
BP's move is symptomatic of an exodus of renewable energy in Australia -- wind power company Vestas closed an Australian facility last year, and solar thermal manufacturer Ausra recently moved from NSW to California.