Scaling up

Solyndra might be making the headlines (on page A10 by now) but the overlooked larger story: the solar industry is booming.

There are a few emerging conversations:

1. Should the government be subsidizing the industry?

2. Can US solar manufacturers compete with Chinese ones?

3. Can the US link production and consumption of solar technology, or will we import cheaper Chinese panels for construction of mega solar facilities for domestic consumption?

4. Should we focus on large-scale solar "plants" or should we take Germany's lead (and Jeremy Rifkin's) and push for lateral power, small scale deployment on homes, neighborhoods, and businesses and scale that way?

These centralized, large-scale projects tend to favor the big established corporations, which has the potential to undermine any sort of democratization of energy production, and replicate the energy hierarchies we've known for centuries. The billions in subsidies will go to the big guys, same as with coal and oil.

Lateral deployment seems the way to go.