Are rainy days gone for solar?

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 announcedeconomic stimulus packages across the Asia Pacific region could lead tonew waves of demand for solar power projects, resulting in a shift ofdemand from traditional strong markets of Europe and the United Statesto the Asian heavy weights such as China, Taiwan, South Korea, India,and Australia,” says Frost & Sullivan’s Asia Pacific IndustryAnalyst of Energy & Power Systems Practice, Suchitra Sriram.

Sriramcites China as an example where the country’s $440bn stimulus packagehas put solar power as one of the key green energy resources to bedeveloped in the near future. Frost & Sullivan said a number ofsolar power projects are already under construction throughout thecountry.

The upcoming solar power installations have the potential to surpassthe original 2020 target of 1.8 GW by up to 10 times, reaching between10 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 Solarhas announced that it will construct solar photovoltaic ground arraysof one megawatt or more in size anywhere in the USA for $2.95 per watt.

  • Underwriters Laboratoriescompleted its photovoltaic testing facility expansion in San Jose,Calif., making it the largest and most comprehensive solar testinglaboratory of its kind in North America.
  • Mallinckrodt Bakerexpands its solar cell surface modifier product portfolio with two PVchemistries PV-162 and PV-200, which will enhance solar cell efficiencyby up to 0.7% absolute, increasing cell energy output for both in-lineand batch solar cell manufacturing processes.

  • Praxairinvested $15 million to increase production capacity of tubular targetsas part of its commitment to serve the photovoltaic PVD market. Theinvestments include acquisition of Senvac Thin Film Technologies inFrankfurt, Germany.

  • Suntech Power Holdingshas entered a number of agreements with each of Shaanxi provincialgovernment, Shizuishan city government, Ningxia province, Qinghaiprovincial government and Panzhihua city government, Sichuan provinceto develop 300MW, 500MW, 500MW and 500MW of solar projects,respectively.

  • 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


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