Extreme Consolidation in the Solar PV market expected this year

This is a good industry article indicating that solar panel manufacturers will go through a major consolidation this year.

Consolidation is a weeding out of the smaller, less efficient manufacturers in favor of low-cost, high-volume, efficient manufacturers.  The remaining suppliers will benefit from lower supply and less intense pricing pressures.  It remains to be seen whether, in the aftermath of lower supply, prices will increase.  They may continue to decline, despite decreased pressure on prices, as new, more efficient technologies and manufacturing techniques are developed.  Or, it may signal the bottoming out of PV panel prices.  Also, there does seem to be some improvement in the economy, at least in some sectors.  This could release pent-up demand from people who have been waiting to invest in solar out of fear over a potential job loss.  If we have industry consolidation (lower supply) that coincides with higher demand, the remaining suppliers will benefit from even higher economies of scale, resulting in higher profitability and perhaps lower prices as low-cost suppliers further consolidate market-share.

By observing general trends in the high tech sector based on silicone chips, one could conclude that prices will continue to decline.  That is, unless there is some other major disruption in the supply chain (like war, political upheaval, etc.)  If prices begin to increase post-consolidation, this may trigger more government intervention and subsidization, which could also be an offsetting factor, although generally, once consolidation has occurred, fewer companies may use subsidies to simply pad their bottom lines, further strengthening their balance sheets and staying power in the market rather than reduce prices.

Industry consolidation is just one factor to consider in determining when is the right moment to invest in Solar technology that moves us further in the direction of off-grid self-sufficiency while staying fiscally conservative.  My sense is that now is at least a much better time to invest in solar than a few years ago.  I’m glad I waited.  Cost per KWh is still higher than grid-supplied electricity.  But the question remains, should I wait longer?  The economy looks to be improving in the short term.

I consider small-scale home based Solar PV not for its economic efficiencies, but more for its insurance value. Long-term, the world still looks extremely fragile.  With the short-term improvement in the economy, this may be the perfect moment to invest in self-sufficiency, whether it is a modest amount of solar PV or a more secure location on which to place it.

Achieving self-sufficiency and sustainability without bankrupting yourself requires a long-term, plodding approach.  Like Maslow’s heirarchy of needs, (remember that from college psychology or sociology classes?) one does not achieve self-actualization until the more basic needs are covered.  PV solar, is at the top of the pyramid.  First, you cover basics like food, water, shelter, Next is energy in the form of least costly and highest efficiency.  Energy for heat and cooling falls in this category.  Passive solar or bio-mass solutions are a much better alternative.    Never try to provide these using Photo Voltaics.  That would be like trying to survive in a famine on an all-corn-fed-beef diet where it takes 15 pounds of grain to produce one pound of meat.  Inefficient, unsustainable.

Surround yourself with Extraordinary People

What do you want to surround yourself with?
I wanted to write something for you about this, so I Googled “surround yourself with” and here is the advice that came up on the first page.

I agree.  I NEED to surround myself with the best, the extraordinary, so that I can become my best.  That’s easier said than done.  It takes work to attract and keep the best in your life, especially if you are looking for people who are better than you are.  I have spent the last five years of my life with that single-minded goal, to attract extraordinary people to the Village.  Our list of permanent residents is still small, but it includes people of extraordinary talents, skills, accomplishments, experiences and character traits.   To name a few, these highly accomplished people, all with post-graduate degrees in their field and stellar life accomplishments, include among their skills:  published philosopher and writer, chemist, plant geneticist, musician, Sr. business executive, successful entrepreneur, web developer, teacher, world travelers, electronics/communications expert, linguists, etc.  If you include those who have purchased land but have not yet built and moved in, the list becomes too long.  Overlaid on these skills are values of hard work, positive thinking, humility, mental toughness, creativity, generosity, mutual caring, independence, self-sufficiency and a strong desire to be part of a cohesive, sharing community.

Have you noticed that on my website, the request for information page includes a text box that asks an unusual question?  “Tell us a little about why you are interested in living in the Village on Sewanee Creek and what you would bring to the community as a neighbor.”  Do you know of ANY other developments where land is offered for sale, but applicants are asked to justify their contribution in terms other than dollars?

I don’t refer to myself as a “developer”.   My primary focus is building this community, so my business card says simply “founder”.  Unlike developers whose work focuses exclusively on subdividing, meeting government codes and selling, I actually live here and have different, vested, personal interests.  So I spend the bulk of my time blogging to attract extraordinary people, then interviewing and observing to understand whether they would be happy and contribute here.  When a person buys land in the Village, only a little of the value they are getting is in dirt, trees, creeks and a nice view.  They are buying years of my single-minded labor to assemble a community, a circle of extraordinary people.  For some, it is hard to recognize tangible dollar value in that.  Those who think the above quotes are only nice platitudes won’t join us in the Village.   They are unlikely to commit to the lifestyle we aspire to or even discover my website with its carefully crafted key search words.  And that is good.  We aren’t looking for average people who have money but don’t get it.

For those who strive to surround themselves with greatness, with people who will lift you higher, people who are like-minded, passionate, intelligent, creative and so on, to these the beautiful land is a nice incidental.

That Village residents understand and value this was recently demonstrated to me by one of them.  We were on an outing together to Nashville to see my favorite play, Les Miserable.  As we drove together I took the opportunity to discuss some community business.  I mentioned that property values in the Village have stayed significantly higher than any nearby as indicated by recent sales.  I sought their views on changes to the covenants because I want to make them as minimally restrictive as I can while maintaining the beauty, tranquility and productivity of the Village.  A Villager with two young children dismissed higher property values.  “Resale value is irrelevant to me”, he said.  “I plan to live here the rest of my life.”  Then he added, “I just want to be sure you will continue to be selective with the quality of my new neighbors.”  BTW, this young, extraordinary man is our post-graduate philosopher/writer/entrepreneur and I would say he gets it.

Principles for a Strong, Free Community

Cover of "The 5000 Year Leap (Original Au...

Cover via Amazon

I’m reading, thanks to some friends of Sewanee Creek, an insightful book that chronicles the creation of the United States. It is called The 5000 Year Leap. by Cleon Skousen.

There have been many aha moments, but I just read the opening lines to the 7th principle of freedom: the proper role of Government. It resonated so strongly with me that I felt compelled to jump on the computer and share it.

Under the bold header, “What Powers Can Be Assigned to Government” it reads,The founders recognized that the people cannot delegate to their government the power to do anything except that which they have the lawful right to do themselves.”

My experience in business management taught me that this is a true principle. In many ways I have always been a bit of a contrarian, preferring to march to the beat of my own drum and driven by strongly held, biblical principles of right and wrong. Often, in the course of my employment, I found that my principles were at odds with those in higher authority. On a couple of occasions I tried to institute change from a grass roots level. That approach invariably landed me in hot water and confirmed to me that this is a true principle. In a corporation, those who have position power will have their way, that is as long as they are clever enough to exercise and maintain power, as they usually are upon reaching a high or ownership position.

That understanding emanates from business experience, which can/should be very different from government of a democratic republic.  But the underlying principle is eternal and immutable. You can not delegate power that you do not have.  In the domain of government, where in America our underlying assumption is of a government for and by the people, the application can become circular and confusing until one inserts the concept of God-given, unalienable rights. These rights and the power that proceeds from them are few and broad, but must be tightly defined.

To return to my business analogy, as a mid-level manager, I had neither the right nor the power to institute change within an organization that I did not own or been delegated rights and powers, regardless of my sense of right and wrong. As stated elsewhere in this great book, rights stem from ownership. Where I disagreed with my superiors my options were, (a) execute exactly as I was directed, (b) convince those in authority of a better way or (c) resign and find a place to work more closely aligned with my values.

Only when rights of ownership and true authority are respected can an organization of any sort reach the potential to achieve the purpose for which it was created. If it is true that the rights of government of the USA are vested only in the people, it is clear that there has been a boardroom coupe.  America is ruled by unelected bureaucrats who report indirectly to hands-off elected officials who have made themselves unaccountable to those who should be vested with power, the people.  But the people have become deservedly dis-empowered because of their witless incompetence in the exercise of their power. Anyone who has participated in boardroom politics will recognize that only those who exercise their power with wisdom and clever insight will retain power. Even owner/founders are routinely deposed by hired managers. The American people have lost power because they have failed to exercise their true, God-given power.  God giveth and the government taketh away.  America is no longer a Republic.  It is a corporation, ruled by hired managers.

I want to relate this back to something more local, as that is all I feel empowered to speak of with any confidence any more. The Village values individual freedom and rights. Rights stem from ownership. Ownership should be the result of honest thought, labor and investment. This is why individual (not communal) property ownership is a keystone to successful community whether at the Village or Nation/State level. That is why the Village on Sewanee Creek is different from most “intentional communities” that typically end up in flames because they are often built on a utopian socialist, common-ownership model.

It is a little understood fact that the constitution of the United States was not ratified or even drafted till years after the successful conclusion of the revolution. Similarly, I have felt it inappropriate to impose homeowner association bylaws for the Village which should be the product of land owners within the village. George Washington declined the offer to become a king. He was a public servant in the best sense. I desire to do the same. My wife and I own most of the Village property now. But when it is sold, I am a Villager, created equal and with equal rights to other Villagers.

For those who might be interested in a model for government of the Village (not to mention the Republic of the USA) read The 5000 Year Leap.

Bashing the Obama/Bush-Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex

Recently there was an Obama bashing post on “Friends of Sewanee Creek” our private website.  It was one of those chain emails that get mindlessly forwarded by people with a particular point of view.  Upon checking Snopes, it was found to be at least a partial fabrication.  No surprise.  One of the site members, a conservative, remarked that he was tired of the Obama bashing.

I responded:

I agree that the energy being expended toward “Obama or ANY bashing” is mis-directed. This is not to say that Obama deserves our admiration or support.  Only that the focus on Obama is a carefully manipulated distraction from the real issues.  Obama is a puppet.  So is congress. Both are dangerous to our liberty and to the peace of the world.

____________________________________________________

The US government and virtually all governments are thoroughly
corrupt from the top down
.

The global military-industrial-congressional complex are collectively the problem because
THEY ARE DRIVEN BY GREED AND POWER.

The global military-industrial-congressional complex are firmly in power because
THE PEOPLE ARE DRIVEN BY GREED AND POWER,
corrupt from the bottom up.

____________________________________________________

Please re-read the statement between the bars and think about it.
It’s simple cause and effect.
No solutions will be evident without a clear understanding of the problem.

Whether overtly religious or not, few people practice Christ’s teachings of charity, love and service either on a personal level or national policy level . Hence, Republicans who are supposedly the party of the religious right continue to support aggressive war and imperialism under the false flag of democratizing the world. But if you listen carefully to their rhetoric you will find the real motives are based on self-preservation of our standard of living over the rest of the world – grass roots greed and power.

No single individual is to blame for the world’s problems. It is all of us together. Therefore, No form of bashing will accomplish anything but distraction from the real problem that lies in each individual heart.

I am convinced that we are now beyond the point of no return where political activism using the levers of democracy can be effective.  Hence, while I pay attention to the theater of politics for cues, I believe that our only salvation is in the moral character of individuals.

Never has the saying, “All politics is local” been more true. We must begin with personal morality and by that I do not mean sexual morality, although it is certainly included.  For an example of effective political action that can turn the tide, I look to Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, the writings of Henry David Thoreau and especially the example of Jesus Christ.  The most effective non-violent movements start by restoring moral judgment to a large, critical mass of the population.

Short of achieving such a mass conversion, the only solution is to work with converted, small, local communities.  If you can’t control the world, control yourself, then your personal environment. Perhaps if I prove to myself that I can discipline myself, then influence a small community, I can gradually regain the hope that leads to faith that leads to power, to change the world on a larger scale. That’s what Gandhi did. Until then, I have no right or reason to hope for anything better.

Ex-Pharma Rep comes clean, exposes industry corruption

This lady makes good sense.

Sometimes it’s overwhelming to think of all the information on the web that points to evil, controlling, manipulative behavior that loosely falls under the category of “conspiracy theory”.

The thing that deludes people into thinking all this is just paranoia is the myth that all evil is somehow coordinated by a small group of evil doers at the top of a great pyramid of evil.  Then again, maybe organic pyramid structures are a naturally occurring phenomena.

Watch Saturday morning cartoons.  Isn’t it amazing that almost all of them nowadays are based on the simplistic story of a super hero pitted against an arch evil nemesis who is single-handedly out to control or destroy the world?  When we grow up, cartoons are relegated to the world of childhood fantasy along with anything that smacks of cartoonishness.  Out goes the baby with the bathwater.  Ergo, arch-villains don’t exist or are at least an aberration from the norm.  Humanity is basically good, so to think that the mass of people would cooperate in a massive evil scheme is… unthinkable.

I view this a little differently.  It has been my life experience that most people really care about one thing – getting ahead.  That boils down to two words, money and power with their derivatives (fame, beauty, sex, comfort, pleasure, etc.)  I have made it a habit of evaluating motives by looking at where the feet are pointing – actions, not words.

Adam Smith, the father of modern economics posited that there is an invisible hand that moves all mankind in a free market to make efficient choices in their own enlightened self-interest that furthers the good of all through general economic growth.  Having observed the nature of man in general, I suggest that Smith was absolutely correct, except that there are cumulative evil side effects of the invisible hand.  Selfish interests do not produce benign results in the long run.  The uncontrolled quest for wealth and power will ALWAYS lead to corruption.  Stated more succinctly, “Power corrupts.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

While almost everyone knows and acknowledges that couplet as fundamental truth, why is it then, that most people remain so optimistically blind to the fact that big, powerful institutions, with incredible consistency, have only one objective in mind, self-enrichment and empowerment at ANY cost?  The higher one rises within the pyramid, the more single-minded one is required to be in pursuit of the one and only god of money and power.  Those lower in the pyramid not having absolute power are corrupted, but not yet absolutely.

Once you recognize that as a fundamental fact in our fallen world, conspiracy is not a theory, it is the most routinely observable human behavior of all.  Conspiracy is a fact of life for everyone.  Everyone is scheming to get ahead.  Conspiracy is nothing more than the survival instinct on steroids.  Conspiracy is just normal individual human behavior with at least one accomplice.  To posit that conspiracy is only a theory or a symptom of paranoid crackpots is to deny that there is greed or evil in the world.

Since we are on the topic of pharmaceuticals relative to the most common of all human diseases, it seems appropriate to ask, “Is there an antidote?”

The answer is YES, but like many antidotes, it’s tough medicine.  Attempting to kick habits that are not only natural to the human condition, but encouraged by drug pushers masquerading as executives, politicians and officers is infinitely more difficult than kicking heroine cold turkey.  If you decide to make the attempt, you will need a good physician and a support group of loyal friends.

I have a recommendation:  There is a good doctor named Jesus Christ who wrote the book and operates a worldwide chain of clinics.  There are many alternative cures of varying efficacy  developed by prophets, philosophers, gurus and shamans around the world.  Some of them are also good.  At the core, the good ones all practice the same golden rules.  But, for my money, Dr. Christ, GD is the best.

There are also many local support groups.  I’m partial to a network forming at the Village on Sewanee Creek of reforming addicts.  As with all addicts, it’s a constant struggle to stay on the wagon, hence the need for a support group.  As a former senior executive, I can testify from personal experience.

Hands-On Preparedness Fair – Workshops

Our call for highly qualified workshop leaders has been answered in spades.   The quality and diversity of topics to be covered at the Fair on July 23-24 is outstanding.  See some of my older posts for a flyer and overview.  Here is a sampling  Preparedness Fair Schedule 7-24-2010

A sequence of three presentations, starts with
Permaculture Design and philosophy, (Saturday @ 10 am)

Permaculture is a design science that takes a whole-ecosystem approach to sustainable development. The term, Permaculture, means permanent agriculture and permanent culture. Permaculture developed in Australia in the late 1970s, by Ecologist David Holmgren and Natural History Professor Bill Mollison, and has since spread throughout the world. Leaders of the sustainability movement are applying Permaculture principles and design methodologies to everything from gardens, home sites, village designs, businesses, and entire regional economies.

Participants will be introduced to a unique tool that incorporates natural design systems into problem solving on multiple levels. Design Resource will offer future classes with in depth studies on topics like energy, food, healing aspects of the landscape, community networking and financial permaculture                                              

 BACKGROUND:   Kevin Guenther is a registered landscape architect, Leed AP professional and certified permaculture designer who has focused his consulting business (Design Resource) on sustainable design

Followed by:
Foraging and Gathering Food and Meds  (Saturday @ 11 am)

Hike through our 500 acre natural preserve in Sewanee Creek Gulf:  Foraging for food and Medicine is the 2nd hour of the permaculture presentation                                                                                                   

Workshop leader, John Rose says, “I work very much hands on, and each location I visit is different. There are a few guidelines common to the practice of safely interacting with anything in nature, whether it is wild plants, wild animals, weather, the elements in general, and ones approach to them.  Includes a general document that will help clarify these things.  I will also include a list of items that are useful learning tools such as a good small notebook with pen, or pencil for drawing and describing plants in their element.  This same notebook can be used as a nature journal for keeping track of such things as time of year, environmental conditions, weather, terrain, and many other aspects, all important to correctly identifying a plant at any given time of year, and under varying conditions.  I will look at not only edible and medicinal plants, but also poisonous plants, and plants that have other utilitarian uses for such things as fire starting, cordage, shelter, and other things.”

And third in the sequence:
Preparing Foraged Foods and Meds  (Saturday @ 2 pm)

Dr. Christina Berry adds that simply identifying edible plants and meds won’t get you far if you don’t know what to do with them.   This workshop will teach about preparing foods and meds from the foraged vegetation found on your foraging journey. Preparations of tinctures, teas, salves and syrups will be made and explained. Discussions of the use of different herbs for different treatments will also be discussed. Resources will be provided for further research.

And there will be much more.  Other workshops include:

TVA’s energy expert, Les Hartman and Village founder Grant Miller present
Alternative Electricity Generation Options.  (Saturday @ 9 am)

Understand available options, pros & cons of each, cost/KWH range, personal work cost, etc.    Understand options for grid tie vs. local battery storage.  See various electricity production options including water, PV, a Lister Diesel Generator and Wood Gasification.

Delve deeper into PhotoVoltaic Solar electricity with George Horrocks, chief design engineer with Tennessee’s largest PV installer.
Power from the Sun  (Saturday @ 10 am)

 Learn the Basics of Producing Electricity from the Sun and Why There has Never Been a Better Time to Go Solar. Whether you want to lock in your energy costs for life, clean and green the world, have backup security when the grid goes down, or see solar as a revenue generator for your family or business, with the price reductions of nearly 50% for solar in the last two years, coupled with incentives in the form of grants, tax credits, and TVA’s Generation Partners payments, now is the “perfect storm” of opportunity to install a solar array.

First on the priority list for preparedness is water.
Rain Water Collection Systems Tour and Demonstration  (Friday @ 3 pm & Saturday @ 1 pm)

Join Paul Owen of Nature’s Tap for a tour of the Miller Home off-grid system.  Understand the benefits and costs of setting up a Rain Water Collection System that can reliably supply all of your water needs.

Then explore options for Water Purification with George Miller,  water quality lab manager for the Palm Springs/Coachella Valley Water District via internet link from California. (Saturday @ 1:30 pm)

Discuss water purification options including filtration, chemical, UV, distillation, etc.    Learn the best use of water from various sources, its treatment primarily for drinking, and its storage.

What about food?
Tour the garden, greenhouse and orchard with permaculturists and gardeners.  (Friday @ 5pm & Saturday @ 1pm) Explore your questions about self-sufficient gardening.  Then learn how to prepare food, observing dutch and solar oven prep’s.  (Saturday 11 am through lunch).  Enjoy tasty BBQ catered from local restaurant, Holy Smokes and learn how to preserve meat and fish by smoking, drying and making jerky.
Sample some local favorites while observing the process of milling wheat for bread, home-made yogurt from milk and tasty jam from local berries.

And you can Can.  Learn how with Carolyn Park and Becky Miller
“Food Preservation Made Simple, Quick and Easy, By Dry-Pack Canning Method”  (Saturday @ 11 am)

CLASS OBJECTIVE:
Have a hands-on experience while learning a proven food storage method.
PARTICIPANTS WILL…
-Learn how to properly can foods such as whole grains, legumes, sugar, and other dry foods.
-Participate in a step-by-step process for canning and sealing dry food in #10 cans and mason jars without the use of electricity.
-See how proper food storage can extend food shelf life for up to 30 years.
-Obtain handouts to help you gain the knowledge to build your own food bank and become food secure.
DISPLAYING:
-Other Food Preservation Methods
-Equipment
BACKGROUND:
Carolyn and Becky have had life long experience in gardening and food preservation. Experience was drawn from three generations of family farming and homemaking.  Recently they have focused on long-term food storage to promote family sustainability and wellness.

“But wait, there’s more”   🙂

  • For hunters or wannabe hunters, expert hunter Bob Blackburn will host a round table discussion on hunting in the Tennessee Woods.   (Friday @ 7:30 pm)
  • For self-defense, expert Brad Bleasdale will present a two-hour course entitled “Choosing and using a Pistol for Defense”   (Saturday @ 10 am)

This Class will cover gun safety, types of handguns, how to eliminate “caliber confusion”, holsters, lights, and lasers, and a host of other topics.
Designed for people considering a pistol, or as a refresher for those who already carry.  Perfect for women, youth, or novice shooters.
Class will include hands-on instruction, and range time with a certified shooting instructor.  Gun and ammo will be available for those without.
Children are welcome but must be accompanied by an adult.

Bio:  Brad Bleasdale is a lifetime shooter and shooting instructor.  Blessed with the heart of a teacher, Brad teaches novice and intermediate shooters the basics of firearms safety and competence.  Brad has instructed hundreds of people in the safe and effective use of firearms, with specialized classes for women, youth, and church groups.
$10/person or $25 / Family.  MUST HAVE:  Eye Protection (sunglasses are fine), ear protection, folding chair, notebook, water.   Bring your own Handgun and Ammo

Alternative HealthCare for mind and body.

  • Start with a 2-hour Native American flute lesson that will soothe and heal the soul, by renowned musician Tony Gerber.  This hands on instruction includes a Native American Flute, all for just $60. (Friday @ 4 pm)
  • Take care of the physical you with a discussion of holistic healthcare methods that have worked for you.  Remedies for every day live.  This round-table will be presented by Dr. Cliffton Brady.  (Saturday @ 1 pm)

Entertainment and Fun

  • Enjoy a movie under the stars at the 26′ wide Village Amphitheater.  Bring your own steak or hot dogs to grill for an outdoor feast.
  • Groove to the jam session sounds of “Space Craft”  (Friday Supper, Saturday Lunch)
  • For the young in body and spirit, learn to rappell off the cliffs near Miller’s Falls with certified instructor, Jesse Gainer or play Village Games with Haley Blackburn.

And that’s just a sampling.  So much to learn and do.  So little time.  Come, join us for the first annual Preparedness fair at the Village on Sewanee Creek.

10 Best Places to Survive in America

One of our villagers just sent me a link to this blog
http://survivalpreparednessblog.com/10-best-places-to-survive-in-america/comment-page-1#comment-104

Unconventional among “10 best places to live lists”, it focuses on places to survive that are rural and the #1 criteria is CHEAP land.

While the Village doesn’t qualify as having the cheapest land in America, I happen to think that the higher cost at Sewanee Creek is offset by quality of life in a planned retreat where you surround yourself with instant community with like-minded people who are committed to helping each other learn to be self-sufficient. 

There’s an old saying about being penny wise and pound foolish and getting what you pay for.  Cheap land may not be the defining factor if you have spent your life behind a desk and lack the necessary skills to go it on your own.  Even for folks that are die-hard outdoorsmen, going off-grid alone is a tough way to live.

Otherwise, I like their logic.  Mountainous, remote, moderate weather, good local and natural resources.  His #10 pick is just a few miles away from us and he cites the natural beauty of the area. 

Overall, I like this BLOG.  What do you think?