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Solar Industry’s Threat To Utilities Greatly Exaggerated, Says Solar CEO

distributed generation utilitiesOne of the world’s leading solar company CEOs, Arno Harris of Recurrent Energy (a US arm of Sharp), has backed up Warren Buffet and said that much of the hype over solar’s threat to utilities is an exaggeration.

“You can’t just take on the utilities and destroy them,” Harris, who is also the chairman of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), said in an interview at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) conference in New York. “To get to any significant solar penetration, we’ll need more and better utility services.”

Despite the fact that the trade association of investor-owned utilities, the Edison Electric Institute, released a report last year explaining how distributed (rooftop) solar could lead to a utility company death spiral, many utilities have since then come around and conceded that solar energy is a big part of the future of energy and they can help enable that future without killing themselves.

“Now they’re ready to have that conversation about how to integrate more solar,” said Harris. “It’s inevitable that solar will become a bigger part of the energy mix and we need the utilities to help manage the grid as it does.”

Food for thought.

For more on this topic, also see a recent survey of utility insiders, which found that “95% anticipate that their utility’s regulatory model will change over the next 10 years, and 57% believe it will change significantly.” Approximately 30–50% thought distributed solar generation was a great threat to the industry.

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Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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