InterPV conducts a series of interviews with solar experts around the world in an effort to get their thoughts on the current status and future prospects for the renewable energy industry and to understand better the solar PV industry in the context of other renewable energy sources.
Tom Gutierrez is GT Solar’s President and Chief Executive Officer, and a member of its board of directors. Gutierrez has extensive international experience in product development, manufacturing, marketing and sales. Prior to assuming his position at GT Solar, Gutierrez served as Chief Executive Officer and a member of the board of directors of Xerium Technologies Inc., a multinational company that develops, manufactures and markets technically advanced synthetic textiles. In this interview, Gutierrez shares his thoughts on the renewable energy industry.
By Jeanny Lim
Could you please update us on the global trends in renewable energy investment? What are the future prospects for investment?
In general, the globally forecasted trends for renewable energy, and solar, in particular, are very strong over the next several years. Based on these forecasts, we believe the markets will continue to grow.
How much investment has been made into the renewable energy industry in your country/region? And what are the future prospects?
According to Greentech Media, there was US$1.9 billion of venture capital invested in green technology companies in the third quarter of 2009. This was on top of US$836 million and US$1.2 billion invested in Q1 and Q2 of 2009, respectively. In particular, solar has been one of the leading investment areas over the past several quarters. There are strong future prospects for investments, driven by the improving economy and public support for renewable energy.
Is there a specific technology sector that has been affected more severely?
Thin film has been severely affected by the downturn because of the ASP declines in crystalline silicon.
And is there a specific geographical region that has been affected more severely?
Europe has suffered more intently than the rest of the world.
What kind of correlation is there between the price of raw materials, oil and electricity and the renewable energy industry?
Today, electricity churned out by traditional power plants is less expensive than that produced by solar panels. But, as technology continues to improve and the price of silicon, and ultimately solar modules, continues to decline, companies across the solar value chain will be able to further reduce their costs and lower the cost per rated watt. When that occurs, we will have reached grid parity and we expect there will be a significant drive for demand across the entire solar industry.
How much growth do you expect for the renewable energy industry?
We anticipate steady growth of renewable energy in the coming years, particularly for technologies like PV that continue to reduce costs and increase performance.
Jeanny Lim is Editor-in-Chief of InterPV. Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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