Large-Scale Solar Sector Surges in U.S. as Panel Costs Drop

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A steep drop in the cost of solar panels in recent months has spurred a significant increase in the number of planned non-residential projects in the U.S., an energy research company reports.

According to Solarbuzz, the number of new, industrial-scale solar projects being planned has increased to 24 gigawatts of solar capacity, up from 17 gigawatts just two months ago.

This growth has occurred as the price of solar panels has plunged 25 percent since the beginning of the year, a trend that analysts say is likely to continue. And while the market has crippled some manufacturers who have unable to keep pace — including three major U.S. companies that were forced to file for bankruptcy in recent weeks — it has made solar projects more attractive to many consumers, businesses, and utilities.

Citing the latest market data, Solarbuzz identified 1,865 non-residential projects that are either installed, being installed, or in development since Jan. 1, 2010. “Utility expectations for improved installed pricing measured either in per watt peak or kilowatt hour have vastly increased over the past quarter,” said Craig Stevens, president of Solarbuzz.

Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.

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Yale Environment 360 is an online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues. We feature original articles by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers, and business people, as well as multimedia content and a daily digest of major environmental news. Yale Environment 360 is published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale University. We are funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The opinions and views expressed in Yale Environment 360 are those of the authors and not of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies or of Yale University.