Solar providers can’t keep up with growing demand

Solar power may not yet be ready for the big time: The current spike in oil prices is causing a surge of interest in home solar, but supply of polysilicon (the stuff solar panels are made of) is unable to keep up with demand. It used to be that only those in the semiconductor industry cared about polysilicon, but about half of this year’s supply will go to the solar industry. The current shortage means higher prices and longer wait times. The delightfully named Barry Cinnamon of California’s Akeena Solar admits that a 16-panel system now costs about $25,500, a jump of $3,500 from 2004. Residential clients in Jacksonville, Fla., are having to wait three months to solarize. The same wait applies in North Hollywood, Calif. — though if they get desperate there, they always know where to find some spare silicone.