US Solar Power Increases in Q2

Developers in the United States installed 69 percent more solar power capacity in the second quarter of this year compared to the year before. Majority of the installations were made by commercial and government entities.

Developers in the United States installed 69 percent more solar power capacity in the second quarter of this year compared to the year before. Majority of the installations were made by commercial and government entities.

Around 314 megawatts of solar photovoltaic panel installations were made in the second quarter of this year, compared to just 186.5 megawatts in the same period last year. This is according to the report released by the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research.

The growth in solar power in the United States was due to government incentives, which include a US Treasury Department program that reimburses 30 percent of the total project costs to the developers. The said program would expire at the end of this year. The Solar Energy Industries Association expects 2012 to be a difficult year for the solar power sector. Analysts predicted a downturn in New Jersey, California and Pennsylvania.

The total number of new installations in the second quarter is up 22 percent from the previous quarter. Most of them are commercial and government projects. Residential projects make up 30 percent while large-scale plants are 16 percent.

California had 30 percent of new solar projects in the second quarter. This is down compared to 42 percent in the first quarter. New Jersey is the second fastest growing solar state, which increased to 24 percent from 15 percent the previous quarter.

There are 100,000 Americans who are employed in the solar power industry. This is double the number in 2009. This was before several solar companies filed their bankruptcies. These are Solyndar, Evergreen Solar and SpectraWatt.

The average costs for solar installations changed in the past years. Price declined in non-residential and utility markets while a small increase in residential systems. The United States expects to install 1,750 megawatts of photovoltaic solar power systems in 2011. This would be twice the amount of last year’s total and enough to power at least 350,000 homes.

Though the media have highlighted the bad news about the solar industry, there is good news about it as well. The US Department of Energy announced that it would come out with a loan guarantee of $1.2 billion to finalize a concentrating solar plant in the Mojave Desert. The project is backed by Abengoa Solar and would have a capacity of 250 megawatts when completed.

According to ABI Research, the United States will become the world’s largest market for solar PV panels in 2013. It would surpass current leader Germany.

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