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Summary:

Solar panel power projects in the U.S. are a bright spot for the solar sector, in a difficult year for solar manufacturing.

Photo by Katie Fehrenbacher/Gigaom

You might not believe it when you listen to political campaign speeches, or look at the balance sheets of solar panels makers, but solar panel power projects are rockin’ in the free world in 2012. Well, in the U.S. specifically. Installations in the U.S. of solar panels more than doubled in the second quarter of 2012 with 742 MW installed, according to a report from the Solar Energy Industry Association and GTM Research.

This year 3.2 GW of solar panels projects are estimated to be installed, which includes both utility-scale solar panel projects, and solar panels installed on rooftops for homes and businesses. Utility-scale solar projects — like the kind that SunPower and PG&E announced last week — made up more than half of the quarter’s installations, at 447 MW and with 20 projects completed. It was the largest quarter ever for utility solar panel installations, says the report.

The trends behind this solar panel wave in the U.S. are rock bottom solar panel prices, and policies in some key states, like California, Arizona, and New Jersey. However, the report authors estimate that the growth in U.S. solar panel installations will slow down in the second half of this year and next year.

There’s already a sizable amount of solar capacity in California. According to the New York Times blog Green, in August California’s utility solar power projects generated about 1 GW during a peak time, which is about as big as a large coal of nuclear plant. And there’s 5.16 GW of solar panel power spread across close to 250,000 solar panel systems total in the U.S.

Beyond the bright spot of solar panel installations, much of the U.S. solar industry that does manufacturing is really struggling. The industry is gathering this week in Orlando for the huge solar convention Solar Power International and will no doubt address the concerns, as well as the bright spots.

  1. Unfortunately, the residential solar power project market may slow down as well as Federal Tax Credits expire in 2016. So any new residential solar project will have lesser time to absorb tax credits from now on to 2016.

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  2. I don’t agree with the first commenter on that idea that residential solar will drop in 2016 with the end of tax subsidies. To the contrary it’s going to grow and grow because the price of installation is at parity with most utility prices now. We are putting in a full-house system here in Iowa this fall and plan on starting a company that’ll install similar systems on farms throughout the country. If just the 1 million farmers installed systems we’d be able to close permanently 15 coal operating plants. And that’s a goal worth something.

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  3. Reblogged this on Sasa Marinic and commented:
    Solar Panel Power is rocking it in 2012

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  4. A simple lease based system tied with Federal Govt. soft loans directly to end consumer can do a lot to boost the Solar Energy adaptation in US:

    http://indudas.blogspot.com/2012/05/new-energy-saving-initiative.html

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  5. …busily shifting grid load to factories in china…lets hope they get a net benefit over the dirty coal burnt in china to make the panels, inverters, etc., plus the bunker fuel to get it here.

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  6. that is tha right way of energy in future

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  7. jay, if just the 1 million farmers lived in fantasy land with you.
    the price of installation is at parity with most utility prices because of the EPA not the market.

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  8. The continued growth of the solar energy industry are one of the bright spots of Arizona’s slow-growing economy. Arizona, which is ranked #2 in photovoltaics installations (according to latest SEIA report mentioned), has an invaluable opportunity to be a leader and a national model for alternative energy programs that could lead to environmental benefits, economic development, and less dependence on fossil fuels. Arizona Solar Concepts ( http://www.azsolarconcepts.com ) is proud to be a part of the growth of solar in Phoenix and the U.S.

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  9. Zonnepanelen kopen in nederland is nu voordeliger dan ooit. De prijs is zo ver gedaalt dat het nu al mogelijk is om een terugverdien tijd te realiseren van minder dan 5 jaar. Op http://www.solsun.nl heb je namelijk al een compleet systeem voor nog geen 1,25 euro per watt peak.

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  10. I’m delighted to know that installations of solar panels have increased despite of the fact that the solar industry is on its tough time. I am hoping that this increase will continue on.

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