First Solar's PV Plant near Toledo, Ohio
Background - A Business Theory of Stuff
There is a balance required between makers of stuff and the customers for their stuff, especially stuff like PV panels is considered (in other words, stuff that is used to make other stuff). If the balance gets too out of whack, the arrangement falls apart, people lose their jobs, businesses go bankrupt and probably out of business. Keep the balance and things can be great, and make the world a better place, too. If the price charged for these "capital goods" is too high, the customers who would hopefully buy this "stuff that makes stuff" won't buy as much, or maybe none at all. After all, they are buying this stuff to make other stuff, and THEIR customers will only pay so much for the product (in this case, electricity made by PV panels). As prices drop for the PV systems, more people should be able to buy PV panels, all other things being held constant.
Touring First Solar's Plant in 2006
In the US, the average PV company is really a PV installer company, with 9 employees. Almost all "PV employment" in the US is installation based, and they can often do other work in other related areas (light construction, electrical) which they might have to do when things in the PV business are less than optimal. What is unique is those who manufacture the products. To do this cost efficiently, these are large scale factories costing at least $50 million each (and often many times that) - such operations cannot be the small business that installers can be. Such operations foster a supply chain with many times the number of jobs and economic influence of the PV assembly facility. The processes to convert materials into semiconductors and then make photovoltaic systems out of them often involves lots of toxic and high purity conditions, and many silicon PV systems need silver metal wires of the "top side" to collect current generated by absorbed light photons. Lately some of the banks which financed significant quantities of Chinese PV manufacturing factory construction for silicon based PVs have been gaming the silver market (PVs have replaced photography as a major user of silver) - quite a cute trick, and it is little wonder the term "bankster" (gangster + banker) is back in vogue.
Photo of a CdTe panel being manufactured, and an American actually employed making it
So if you want renewable energy to thrive in this country, maybe you ought to start with making them here, first, and put these snake oil dreams of "too cheap to meter" and "grid parity PV" where they belong - with the hype that early nuke proponents used. PV will never be cheap - all the labor, energy and materials (as well as the storage needed to buffer times when the sun is blocked by clouds are it's nighttime) that go into them actually does cost, and those costs need to be repaid, or at least paid by someone or by all of us via taxes. But over time it might be cheaper than it already is, or might not. And PV is going to be more expensive in places that are not a desert than where it is a desert - just like wind based electricity is cheaper in windy places and pricier where it is not so windy. It's only a problem when deception is used to hide the costs, and where the scale of deployment is large enough that the money bleed for imports plus the deception of what it really costs finally can't be swept under the proverbial rug anymore. After all, when $10 billion of PV installs requires $7.5 billion in avoided taxes (for starts) and it's the choice of whether to do renewable deployment or to fund school operations and pay for the construction of a sewage system that qualifies an area for the term "civilized", maybe something has to change.
But if you try sometimes you just might might find
You get what you need".
Middle image = http://www.toledofreepress.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/SolarFSWorker.jpg
bottom image = http://www.toledoblade.com/local/2007/02/14/First-Solar-posts-1st-profit-in-20-year-history.html - Factory Tour, First Solar, Toledo, Ohio