Good news emerges on solar panel front, but not necessarily for US makers | The American Ceramic Society

Good news emerges on solar panel front, but not necessarily for US makers

US PV Installations by market segment and quarter, 2011-Q2 2012. Credit: GTM Research.

Today’s Wall Street Journal reports that despite the seeming predominance of negative business news about solar panel manufacturers, the number of United States solar installations continues to increase—and at a faster rate than ever before. According to the story, “The US is on pace to install as much solar power this year as it did in this century’s entire first decade: at least 2,500 megawatts, the equivalent of more than two nuclear-power plants. The US added about 742 megawatts of solar capacity in the second quarter, or enough to power about  150,000 homes.”

As another snapshot of the growth of installations, the story uses information from GTM Research that 1,254 megawatts will be have been installed in the first half of 2012, compared to 623 megawatts in the first half of 2011.

This isn’t to say that US solar panels are reaping the benefits. The story acknowledges that most of the installations are largely supplied by foreign manufacturers. Exports of US-made panels are being battered, too, with a seven percent drop off from 2008. (In comparison, the story says that China is supplying about half of the world’s panels, up from only 20 percent in 2008.)

The research company warns that growth may slow from about 70 percent this year and will be more likely to be in the 25 percent to 40 percent per year range through 2016.

The WSJ story and GTM Research (executive summary downloadable) also reports that the average price per watt for installed has dropped over 97 percent from the 1970s to about $0.84 per watt now.