(OilPrice) The photovoltaic industry is in a perverse situation. To make power generation from solar competitive, prices of solar panels had to come down. Tens of billions in subsidies were plowed into the industry. Technological advances came along. And the price per watt crashed exponentially, from $76 in 1977 to about $7 in 1989. Then it leveled off. By 2000 it began to drop again, hit $4 in 2005, $2 in 2010, and a forecast $0.74 per watt in 2013 (graph).
But it wreaked havoc. Business models collapsed. Funding dried up. PV companies bled red ink. In the US, a slew of them, including Solyndra, went bankrupt. Others shut down or changed course. Tens of billions in taxpayer subsidies and investor capital spiraled down the drain.