Posting in Energy
Commercial projects gave the U.S. solar industry a giant boost in the second quarter. The manufacturing sector is an entirely different story.
Installations of solar panels in the United States have skyrocketed 69 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, thanks largely to commercial and government projects, according to an industry trade group report released Tuesday. U.S. manufacturing is an entirely different story, where success is mixed and highly dependent on where the products are headed.
Not surprisingly, much of the media attention has centered on the report's photovoltaic solar installation findings. Developers installed 314.3 megawatts of solar PV power in the second quarter, a 17 percent increase from the first quarter and a 69 percent rise from the same year-earlier period.
However, the analysis of the manufacturing sector is far more intriguing and offers a glimpse of where the domestic industry is headed. The report tells two interlaced manufacturing stories: one of export-oriented companies trying to adjust to new pressures, and another more positive tale of producers focused squarely on the U.S. market.
The health of U.S. PV manufacturers that serve the export markets were tested by rapidly falling prices and a marked slowdown in demand in solar leaders Germany and Italy that caused record levels of inventory. Some U.S. companies have cut back production levels, other less competitive producers canceled planned expansions or idled factories. A number of companies, including Solyndra and Evergreen Solar went out of business entirely.
Meanwhile, companies that make solar products in the U.S. and sell directly to the domestic market have fared much better. The U.S. solar market is the fastest growing market in the world, Rhone Resch, executive director of the Solar Energy Industries Association said in a teleconference Tuesday to discuss the industry report.
Foreign and domestic companies keen on tapping the U.S. market are increasingly building factories here. Resch made particular note of Chinese solar panel maker Suntech Power, which opened last year a 117,000-square-foot plant in Goodyear, Arizona. In May, the company added a third production shift.
The upshot? Domestic module production in the second quarter fell 11 percent from the last quarter as export-oriented companies experienced a slowdown, while steady growth was seen with producers more heavily weighted toward serving the U.S. market, the report said.
Here are a few other items from the report:
- Residential installations fell slightly from the first to the second quarter of 2011. Although the researchers say this isn't indicative of a long-term pattern. Colorado, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania saw declines.
- Commercial and government installations grew 22 percent in the second quarter. However, some markets including California and Colorado saw non-residential installs drop.
- Utility installation grew 37 percent to 50 megawatts in the second quarter.
- The dominant majority of modules produced in the U.S. in the second quarter were crystalline silicon (72%) and cadmium telluride (22%), CIGS (5%) and amorphous silicon (1%).
- Overall U.S. thin film production share stood at 27.5 percent and is expected to increase.
Photo: Flickr user Living off the Grid, CC 2.0
Sep 20, 2011
Changes in state support will also account for some difference in the US domestic installation figures. Here in NY state, the subsidy per kw went down by quite a bit, making each proposal done in 2011 more expensive than ones done the year before.
Solyndra used their California plant to secure over $4 billion in projects for 2 commercial solar generation plants in southern California. The bidding process was rigged to favor a company with an in state production facility. Here is the scam. They took the US government loan intended to expand the California plant to meet the demands of the $4 billion in projects and instead they bought Photon Solar in India. They transferred the $4 billion in work to that plant and closed the California production facility while filing bankruptcy on the name Solyndra. They get a new manufacturing facility paid for by US taxpayers and $4 billion in work from the ratepayers in Southern California and avoid paying back the US government backed loan. That is what the green industry likes to call creative financing and good strategic planning.
Yes. US is advancing in Solar at a great speed. It is hoped the cost of Solar power will soon come down so that more and more developing countries go for major solar projects. Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India Wind Energy Expert E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for the encouraging news. Only through advanced machine automation will solar ever be cheap enough to store in batteries (which also needs to be made by machines for almost free 24/7). This in turn would create almost unlimited install jobs. So I don't care where the panels are made, just as long as profit gouging is kept to an absolute minimum.
"Here is the scam. They took the US government loan intended to expand the California plant to meet the demands of the $4 billion in projects and instead they bought Photon Solar in India." The U.S. government did not provide Solyndra a loan. Let me repeat this so it gets through: the U.S. government did not provide a loan. They provided a loan guarantee. I'd love to know where you got your "info."
...as Solyndra's CEO & CFO did little more than plead the 5th before the House Energy and Commerce Committee investigative panel. Henry Waxman got a bit indignant at some of the questions that were without-a-doubt really soundbites. (I know, funny in and of itself) And yet they were tame compared to some of the questions I might have liked to have seen asked.