While some reports indicate that investments in the solar market is shining again, others claimed continued cloudy days because of capital intensive projects and growing overcapacity in some regions (ok, I'll stop the weather talk).
According to Pike Research's new report, solar demand in the US has been improving although financing is still a roadblock.
"As soon as financing picks up, the demand is there," says industry analyst George Kotzias."In addition to the increase in subsidies, module prices have dropped by as much as 50% and installed costs have dropped over 30% over the past year," he adds.According to the report, weak federal level tax credits and depreciation incentives are not currently enough to encourage sustainable demand growth. Some states and municipalities instead have taken the lead in providing incentives such as upfront rebates and property tax credits, renewable energy credits and even European-style feed-in tariffs.
As financing picks up, Pike Research estimates the U.S. solar market to surpass Spain in 2009 and will top Germany by 2013.
Frost & Sullivan reported that the weak US and European solar markets might drive investments to relocate to the Asian market instead.
"The recently announced economic stimulus packages across the Asia Pacific region could lead to new waves of demand for solar power projects, resulting in a shift of demand from traditional strong markets of Europe and the United States to the Asian heavy weights such as China, Taiwan, South Korea, India, and Australia," says Frost & Sullivan's Asia Pacific Industry Analyst of Energy & Power Systems Practice, Suchitra Sriram.Sriram cites China as an example where the country's $440bn stimulus package has put solar power as one of the key green energy resources to be developed in the near future. Frost & Sullivan said a number of solar power projects are already under construction throughout the country.
The upcoming solar power installations have the potential to surpass the original 2020 target of 1.8 GW by up to 10 times, reaching between 10 GW and 20 GW over the next 10 years.
Slowdown or not, there is certainly no lack of solar activity and development announcements in the past few weeks:
- Fresco Solar
has announced that it will construct solar photovoltaic ground arrays
of one megawatt or more in size anywhere in the USA for $2.95 per watt.
- Underwriters Laboratories completed its photovoltaic testing facility expansion in San Jose, Calif., making it the largest and most comprehensive solar testing laboratory of its kind in North America.
- Mallinckrodt Baker
expands its solar cell surface modifier product portfolio with two PV
chemistries PV-162 and PV-200, which will enhance solar cell efficiency
by up to 0.7% absolute, increasing cell energy output for both in-line
and batch solar cell manufacturing processes.
invested $15 million to increase production capacity of tubular targets
as part of its commitment to serve the photovoltaic PVD market. The
investments include acquisition of Senvac Thin Film Technologies in
- Suntech Power Holdings
has entered a number of agreements with each of Shaanxi provincial
government, Shizuishan city government, Ningxia province, Qinghai
provincial government and Panzhihua city government, Sichuan province
to develop 300MW, 500MW, 500MW and 500MW of solar projects,
- Walmart Puerto Rico and SunEdison plan to deploy rooftop solar systems on five Walmart PR stores with the potential for 23 stores over five years.
- Munich-based chemical company Wacker launch a new thermoplastic encapsulant TECTOSIL for the manufacture of photovoltaic modules.
- Dow Corning Opens Solar-Powered Day Care Center in Indian Village