US solar snapshot by Climate Nexus

The US solar industry is booming, asserts Climate Nexus, which compiled this US solar factsheet in advance of Congress meetings on bankrupt solar-panel manufacturer Solyndra. The following points were gathered by Climate Nexus to dispel the opinion that Solyndra’s failure is representative of the entire solar power ecosystem in the US.

The United States solar industry is booming, asserts Climate Nexus, which compiled this US solar factsheet in advance of Congress meetings on bankrupt solar-panel manufacturer Solyndra, which used Department of Energy (DOE) loans. The following points were gathered by Climate Nexus to dispel the opinion that Solyndra’s failure is representative of the entire solar power ecosystem in the US.

·      Driven by loan guarantees and federal and state incentives, solar installations in 2010 saw a 104% increase over 2009.[i]

·      Between August 2010 and August 2011, the solar industry grew by 6.8% — compared the 0.7% growth rate of the overall U.S. economy.[ii]

·      By the end of 2011, The United States is expected to install 1,750 megawatts of solar photovoltaics (PV), double last year’s total and enough to power 350,000 homes.[iii]

·      More than 100,000 Americans are employed in the solar industry.[iv]

·      America is a net exporter of solar, by nearly $2 billion in 2010.[v]

·      Analysts have estimated that 73% of the value of producing PV goes directly to the United States, as most of the labor and expenses would be difficult to outsource.[vi]

·      The U.S. states that lead in solar installation have government incentives in place, not necessarily the most solar potential.[vii] For instance, New Jersey has the largest non-residential market in the country.[viii]

·      California, the leading solar state, currently has nearly 100,000 solar projects underway.[ix]

With continued incentives and innovation, solar could soon become cost-competitive with fossil fuels, Climate Nexus asserts:

·      From 1998 to 2010, the average cost of installed solar in the United States dropped dramatically, by 43%, and continues to drop. In just one year, 2009 to 2010, average cost of installation dropped 17%, largely due to industry expansion.

·      The average cost per installed watt of solar is $6.90 in the U.S. but $6.40/watt in Japan and $4.20/watt in Germany. This suggests that with a larger market, costs could continue to fall. [x]

·      Germany, the world leader in solar, tripled its solar power in ten years due to strong government support.[xi]

·      Switching to solar could have benefits not always captured by traditional analyses, such as cleaner air, grid security and reduced greenhouse gas pollution. One estimate of benefits for solar installation in New York put the figure at 15-45 cents per kilowatt hour.[xii]

·      Some analysts have suggested that with the right incentives solar could be competitive with fossil fuels in ten years. [xiii]

·      In California, recent projects already may be cost competitive with natural gas.[xiv]

·      One analyst suggests that in some regions of the United States, such as Hawaii, grid parity could be reached next year.[xv]

Sources:

[i] GTM Research, prepared for the U.S. Solar Energy Industries Association. (2011, August). U.S. Solar Energy Trade Assessment 2011. Retrieved from: http://www.seia.org/galleries/pdf/GTM-SEIA_U.S._Solar_Energy_Trade_Balance_2011.pdf

[ii] The Solar Foundation. (2011). National Solar Jobs Census 2011 Finds Solar Companies Hiring Faster Than the Rest of the Economy [Press Release]. Retrieved from: http://thesolarfoundation.org/research/national-solar-jobs-census-2011

[iii] Solar Energy Industries Association. (2011). New Report Shows U.S. Solar Outpaces Global Market: PV Demand Grows 69 Percent Year-Over-Year [Press Release]. Retrieved from: http://www.seia.org/cs/news_detail?pressrelease.id=1592

[iv]The Solar Foundation. (2011). National Solar Jobs Census 2011 Finds Solar Companies Hiring Faster Than the Rest of the Economy [Press Release]. Retrieved from: http://thesolarfoundation.org/research/national-solar-jobs-census-2011

[v] Solar Energy Industries Association. (2011). U.S. Solar Industry Was Net Global Exporter by $1.9B in 2010 [Press Release]. Retrieved from: http://www.seia.org/cs/news_detail?pressrelease.id=1532

[vi] GTM Research, prepared for the U.S. Solar Energy Industries Association. (2011, August). U.S. Solar Energy Trade Assessment 2011. Retrieved from: http://www.seia.org/galleries/pdf/GTM-SEIA_U.S._Solar_Energy_Trade_Balance_2011.pdf

[vii] Barbose, G., Darghouth, N., Wiser, R. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. (2010). Tracking the Sun IV: A Historical Summary of the Installed Cost of Photovoltaics in the United States from 1998-2010. Retrieved from: http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/EMS/reports/lbnl-5047e.pdf

[viii] http://www.seia.org/galleries/pdf/SMI-Q2-2011-ES.pdf

[ix] California Solar Statistics.  Retrieved from: http://californiasolarstatistics.ca.gov/

[x] Barbose, G., Darghouth, N., Wiser, R. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. (2010). Tracking the Sun IV: A Historical Summary of the Installed Cost of Photovoltaics in the United States from 1998-2010. Retrieved from: http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/EMS/reports/lbnl-5047e.pdf

[xi] Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) Division KI III 1. (2010). Renewable Energy Sources 2010. Retrieved from: http://www.erneuerbare-energien.de/files/english/pdf/application/pdf/ee_in_zahlen_2010_en_bf.pdf

[xii] Perez R., K. Zweibel & T. Hoff, (2011): Solar Energy in the US — Too Expensive, or a Bargain? Accepted to Energy Policy. Retrieved from: http://www.asrc.cestm.albany.edu/perez/2011/solval.pdf

[xiii] IEEE. (2011). Solar Photovoltaics Gaining Momentum and Poised to Challenge Fossil Fuels, Say IEEE Solar Experts [Press Release]. Retrieved from: http://www.ieee.org/about/news/2011/15june_2011.html

[xiv] Lacey, S. (2011, February 8). Solar PV Becoming Cheaper than Gas in California? Renewable Energy World. Retrieved from: /content/rew/en/articles/2011/02/solar-pv-becoming-cheaper-than-gas-in-california.html

[xv] Wall Street Transcript (Interviewer) & Zaman, A. (Interviewee). (2011). Alternative Energy Report [Interview Transcript]. Retrieved From:  http://www.twst.com/yagoo/zaman14.html

 

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