First I want to again highlight the National Weather Service survey of the tornado that hit Clark county on Tuesday (as Rob did yesterday as well). Yesterday I provided a very rough preliminary estimate of where the tornado traveled just based on viewer reports and pictures. It turns out the tornado took a more west to east path, instead of northwest to southeast.
Instead of starting a couple miles east of Loyal, it was a couple miles south of of that community. It then traveled mostly eastward for about 7.2 miles and lifted just a little northeast of Chili.
If it had continued for another 5 miles or so, it would have likely affected the south side of Marshfield. The tornado was rated an EF2 with estimated winds of 120 to 130 mph, which makes it just a little weaker than the tornado that hit Merrill earlier this year.
Now on to one of my other favorite subjects (besides the weather) and that is alternative energy and technological progress. We live in a fast paced world and new developments are happening every day, but sometimes we hit a few speed bumps. Not everything progresses smoothly. For those hoping for the solar power revolution to really take-off (me included), it seems things might be stalled just a bit. Many analysts of the solar power industry say there is an oversupply right now and that this will hurt profitability at many companies. It has hurt enough to cause a few companies to go out of business. It is not much surprise to me that the new companies supported primarily by government loans here in the U.S. have failed. Evergreen solar unfortunately filed for bankruptcy and Solyndra is not doing too hot either.
What is more disturbing and sad is that privately funded Spectrawatt has also gone belly up. This was a company spun off by Intel, the computer chip manufacturing giant.
The common themes for the profitability problems are oversupply, loss of government subsidies, and competition from China. The only way to beat the competition from China is to go toward more automated production (like First Solar? Although even they are manufacturing more in Malaysia). The government subsidies will probably be meager for a few years to come because most developed-nations are functionally insolvent. They won’t have much money to spare on solar subsidies in the near future. The over supply situation cuts both ways. Over supply can lead to lower prices which can eventually lead to more people buying the product. It is a dynamic relationship that might favor strongest players in the market. In any case, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a couple more solar power company bankruptcies in the near year or so. Overall, I suspect the trend toward more solar power adoption will continue because the price per watt keeps coming down every year while the price of traditional fossil fuels remains high.
Have a nice Thursday! Meteorologist Justin Loew.