In a May 2011 article published in Photovoltaics World, Navigant Director Paula Mints addresses the sale of solar futures and the age-old commodity vs. product debate.
A commodity is a (relatively) undifferentiated good at the price for which is determined by the market, and this price is generally low. Commodities are by their nature fungible; however, all commodities are not created equal. Solar electricity, when sold utility-scale as a commodity, is differentiated by being clean, safe, and reliable. The long-term reliability of the technology has been proven, and with advances in system design and topographies that mitigate variability, its hour-by-hour reliability will be proven in time.
Primarily, solar-generated electricity can be differentiated from conventional energy by virtue of being an environmental good. Practically, though, this differentiation is lost when in competition with other renewables (not nuclear), and in the end, cheap is the name of the commodity game.
Click here to read the article.