Solar Up 85 Percent So Far in 2012
It's nearly summer. The sun's out. And there's reason to smile, because the solar energy sector is "maintaining its breakneck pace from 2011," according to a new report by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association.
Photovoltaic installations in the first quarter of this year reached 506 megawatts, up a whopping 85 percent over the same period last year. That means 2012 is on pace to surpass 3,200 MW of new solar, which would be 75 percent more than the entire year of 2011 and 15 percent more than initial estimates.
New Jersey was the quarter's top state, with 174 MW of new installations, followed by California and Arizona. Solar's cumulative operating capacity in the U.S. is now more than 4.4 gigawatts, according to the report.
However, the report acknowledged the potential for a slowdown as "U.S. solar panel manufacturers continue to face increased global competition and uncertainty surrounding global trade disputes." Panel production is at about 160 MW, down from 335 this time last year. But "we expect the U.S. market to regain momentum thereafter and continue along its path to become a global PV market leader by 2015," said Shayle Kann, the Managing Director of GTM Research.
The Sierra Club, through its partnership with Sungevity, is helping to promote rooftop solar panels as a local, clean energy solution. Click here to learn more.
-- Brian Foley