Helping solar become profitable

IPC is entering the solar field. And if ever there was a market that could benefit from some standardization, it’s solar.
It’s been around for years, getting lots of support from governments, but it’s still a technology with more future hopes than current successes. Though countries around the globe are now offering hefty incentives to companies that invest in solar, the state of the market today is definitely dreary.
Market researcher iSuppli recently said the market’s dropped so far that solar panel manufacturers built up a backlog that won’t be cleared out until 2012. German and Chinese manufacturers recently announced dismal earnings and some hefty layoffs.
Despite the current gloom, few people are betting against solar’s future. Government support is increasing, especially in the U.S. Prices are declining, which is one reason earnings are down. But over the long term, lower prices should increase demand.
IPC’s presence can’t be expected to drive a turnaround. But it’s moving in to help build an infrastructure for an industry that still seems to be in a startup phase even though it’s been around more than a decade.
IPC’s new Solar Standards Committee is creating standards in seven areas, hoping to help fabricators reduce their manufacturing costs. Though solar is a new area for IPC, building standards for solar is a synergistic effort. Many of the manufacturing processes are similar to board production.
Standards have played a major role in helping a range of industries compete in difficult markets. If they can help photovoltaic companies create sustainable business models, the benefits will be widespread.

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