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Solar Energy Market Turning Attractive

By Countercurrents.org

02 October, 2012

Solar energy market is turning attractive. Reports from the US and Europe reveal the fact.

For the fourth consecutive quarter, the US residential solar energy market grew incrementally, installing 98.2 megawatts. And, over the past ten years, the PV industry grew in Europe by an average of over 40% per year

Citing U.S. Solar Market Insight: 2nd Quarter 2012 report Solar Daily said [1]:

The report by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) finds the US solar achieved its second-best quarter in history, having installed 742 megawatts of solar power, and the best quarter on record for the utility market segment. Utility installations hit 477 megawatts in the second quarter, with eight states posting utility installations of 10 megawatts or greater: California, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, Illinois, North Carolina, New Mexico, and New Jersey. In total, the US now has 5,700 megawatts of installed solar capacity, enough to power more than 940,000 households.

According to report, the utility photovoltaic (PV) market will remain strong through the last two quarters of 2012. With 3400 megawatts of utility PV projects currently under construction, and weighted US average system prices 10 percent lower than the previous quarter, GTM Research forecasts an additional 1.1 gigawatts of utility PV to begin operating before year's end.

"The US solar industry is rapidly growing and creating jobs across America despite the slow economic recovery," said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA.

"More solar was installed in the US this quarter than in all of 2009, led for the first time by record-setting utility-scale projects. With costs continuing to come down, solar is affordable today for more homes, businesses, utilities, and the military. Smart, consistent, long-term policy is driving the innovation and investment that's making solar a larger share of our overall energy mix."

California , Arizona , and New Jersey led residential installations nationally, with smaller-market states of Hawaii , Massachusetts , and Maryland demonstrating strong quarter-over-quarter growth.

Shayle Kann, Vice President of Research at GTM Research, said: "The success of third-party residential solar providers has attracted more than $600 million in new investments in recent months."

In contrast to the utility and residential markets, the non-residential (e.g., commercial, government, non-profit) segment contracted, falling from 291 megawatts in Q1 2012 to 196 megawatts this quarter.

Global oversupply continues to be the chief challenge to the US PV suppliers, as wafer, cell, and module production in the US fell 33, 25 and 28 percent respectively in Q2 2012 as a result.

Today, the U.S. solar industry employs more than 100,000 Americans at 5,600, mostly small businesses, across all 50 states.

The report highlights that PV technology and its deployment is a global business and considers that future generations of PV technologies could spring from international cooperation on eco-innovation, in partnership with Asia and the United States .

Citing the 2012 Photovoltaics Status Report , SD said [2]:

Europe accounted for two-thirds of the world-wide newly installed PV capacity in 2011, with 18.5 GW. Its overall PV capacity totaled 52 GW. The yearly electricity produced by PV could power a country with the electricity demand of Austria , which corresponds to 2% of the EU's electricity needs. These are some of the highlights of the report published by the EC's Joint Research Centre.

Over the past ten years, the PV industry grew in Europe by an average of over 40% per year and the production costs have decreased by around 60%.

Germany , Italy , Spain , the Czech Republic , France , Belgium , and the United Kingdom are the leaders in installed PV capacity in Europe .

Since 2000, world-wide, total PV production had growth rates of between 40 and 90%. The most rapid growth in annual production over the last five years was observed in Asia, where China alone accounts for more than 50% of the world's PV production. In addition, for the second year in a row, solar power was the renewable energy that attracted most investment, with a total of 98.5 billion euros world-wide, of which two thirds were concentrated in Europe .

A challenge for the European industry in this field is China 's massive investment in PV manufacturing, which has led to an economy of scale in manufacturing in that country. However, the delivery of manufacturing equipment from Europe to Asia is still beneficial as Europe still has the lead in PV research and development.

The report observed that PV modules can be incorporated and specifically designed as building materials, functioning as an insulation material and fostering a new "European PV-architecture", whilst at the same time providing one of the key technologies required to achieve zero emissions buildings.

Source :

[1] “US Solar Market Spikes in Q2 2012” Washington DC , SPX , Sept. 20, 2012, http://www.solardaily.com/reports/US_Solar_Market_Spikes_in_Q2_2012_999.html

[2] Solar Daily , “Two-thirds of the world's new solar panels were installed in Europe in 2011”, Brussels , SPX , Sept. 25, 2012, http://www.solardaily.com/reports/Two_thirds_of_the_worlds_new_






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