Solar power, brought to you by robots

Diane Cardwell, reporting for the New York Times:

Working in near secrecy until recently, the company, based in Richmond, Calif., is ready to use its machines in three projects in the next few months in California, Saudi Arabia and China. If all goes well, executives expect that they can help bring the price of solar electricity into line with that of natural gas by cutting the cost of building and maintaining large solar installations.

In recent years, the solar industry has wrung enormous costs from developing farms, largely through reducing the price of solar panels more than 70 percent since 2008. But with prices about as low as manufacturers say they can go, the industry is turning its attention to finding savings in other areas.

The writing between the lines says that these robots will supplant people. That’s not entirely unexpected—as industries mature, automation tends to take over, increasing efficiency and lowering costs. Cheap solar is a good thing. So what’s bad about it? Selling solar as a way to create jobs just got a lot harder.

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