Quantcast
Popular

Solar Soars as Suniva Case Looms

By Abigail Ross Hopper

There is never a dull moment in the solar industry, but one thing that has been consistent is growth. The Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research Q2 2017 U.S. Solar Market Insight report shows just that. The U.S. solar industry added more than 2,044 megawatts of new capacity in the first quarter of this year, marking the sixth straight quarter in which more than two gigawatts of solar was installed.


Solar is a true American success story, and that is reflected in this report. However, this growth is imperiled by Suniva's active Section 201 trade petition with the International Trade Commission. This blunt instrument will cost tens of thousands of American jobs, if high tariffs are imposed as suggested, and in turn, bring solar growth to a screeching halt.

In effect, Suniva, a bankrupt Georgia company owned by the Chinese, and SolarWorld, whose German parent company is insolvent are seeking economic relief from more competitive panels from other parts of the world. This is the wrong way to revive American panel and cell manufacturing, which we are determined to do, to say nothing of the 38,000 other manufacturing jobs in the solar sector threatened by this petition. And we are doing everything we can to oppose it.

The trade case aside, a number of variables factored into the numbers in the market report, including projects in the pipeline as 2015's planned ITC expiration approached, the overall economy, new markets opening, etc. And through it all, solar was second only to natural gas as the largest source of new electric generating capacity brought on-line, responsible for 30 percent of added generation.

This impressive macro-level growth is just a sliver in an array of positive storylines from this SMI report. Developments in markets like community solar are bright spots for the ever-growing solar industry, specifically in Minnesota which nearly doubled its cumulative community solar capacity in Q1.

States such as Utah, Texas and South Carolina continue to scale in the residential sector and are growing into significant national solar players. New York was welcomed into the "Solar Gigawatt Club," as all top 10 solar states now have more than one gigawatt of capacity installed.

All of these narratives fit into what was another strong Q1 for our industry. The progress made, though, can be boiled down to one big milestone. For the first time ever, utility-scale solar prices fell below $1.00 per watt. This is particularly notable because, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, utility-scale solar system cost was not projected to fall under $1.00 per watt until the year 2020.

Utility-scale system prices are falling much faster than predicted and PV prices continue to drop across all market segments, falling 63 percent over the last five years.

Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research forecast that 12.6 gigawatts will come online in 2017, just 10 percent less than 2016's boom, when the market grew by 98 percent.

There is no question that the Suniva cloud threatens to pour cold water on the industry's progress and we need your help to fight the battle and preserve solar's growth. But if we can stop this ill-conceived effort to prop up underperformers, and with the right policies in place, U.S. solar capacity is expected to triple in size, to more than 128 gigawatts by 2022. By that time, more than 22 million American homes will be powered by solar.

Abigail Ross Hopper is the president and CEO of Solar Energy Industries Association.

How much money can a solar roof save you? Find local deals on solar in your area, eliminate your power bill and join the solar revolution. UnderstandSolar is a great free service to link you to top-rated solar installers in your region that will provide you personalized solar estimates for free. Learn more here.

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
Energy
Petrified Forest National Park. Andrew Kearns / National Park Service

Trump Opens Door to Dangerous Fracking in Northern Arizona

A new Trump administration plan proposes to auction off 4,200 acres of public land for oil and gas development in northern Arizona. The lands straddle the Little Colorado River, are within three miles of Petrified Forest National Park, and are near habitat for a federally threatened fish called the Little Colorado spinedace. Drilling and fracking would threaten to deplete and pollute groundwater in the Little Colorado River Basin.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Wild bumble bees provide natural pollination for blueberries in North America. John Flannery / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Beyond Honey Bees: Wild Bees Are Also Key Pollinators, and Some Species Are Disappearing

By Kelsey K. Graham

Declines in bee populations around the world have been widely reported over the past several decades. Much attention has focused on honey bees, which commercial beekeepers transport all over the U.S. to pollinate crops.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Brown bears in Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska. NPS Photo / B. Plog

Trump Admin. Wants to Reinstate 'Cruel' Hunting Tactics in Alaska, Conservation Groups Say

The Trump administration has proposed new regulations to overturn an Obama-era rule that protects iconic predators in Alaska's national preserves.

Wildlife protection organizations condemned the move, as it would allow hunters to go to den sites to shoot wolf pups and bear cubs, lure and kill bears over bait, hunt bears with dogs and use motor boats to shoot swimming caribou. Such hunting methods were banned on federal lands in 2015 that are otherwise permitted by the state.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
An Asian elephant eating tree bark. Yathin S Krishnappa / CC BY-SA 3.0

5 Conservation Milestones to Celebrate on This International Day for Biological Diversity

Scientists are increasingly realizing the importance of biodiversity for sustaining life on earth. The most comprehensive biodiversity study in a decade, published in March by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), warned that the ongoing loss of species and habitats was as great a threat to our and our planet's wellbeing as climate change.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
Deep-sea corals may not be flashy, but they deserve a second look. Oceana

Ignoring Deep-Sea Corals Is Risky for the Oceans, and for Us

By Nathan Johnson

The deep sea might be cold and dark, but it's not barren. Down here, an incredible diversity of corals shelters young fish like grouper, snapper and rockfish. Sharks, rays and other species live and feed here their whole lives.

Brightly colored coral gardens, far beyond the reach of the sun's rays, don't just nurture deep-sea life. They also help advance medical research and understand climate change.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
Kristian Buus / Greenpeace

Green Groups Balk at England’s Plan to Fast Track Fracking

Government ministers published proposals Thursday that would speed the development of fracking in England, igniting opposition from environmental groups and local communities, The Independent reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Energy

Before Royal Wedding Sermon, Rev. Curry Stood With Standing Rock Pipeline Opponents

Bishop Michael Curry, who delivered a passionate wedding sermon to royal newlyweds Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on Saturday, also gave a powerful message about two years ago to Dakota Access Pipeline protesters at Standing Rock, North Dakota.

On Sept. 24, 2016 at the Oceti Sakowin Camp, the reverend offered the Episcopal Church's solidarity with the water protectors, noting that, "Water is a gift of the Creator. We must protect it. We must conserve it. We must care for it."

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Coral bleaching like this (in the Great Barrier Reef) is killing the largest reef in Japan. Oregon State University / CC BY-SA 2.0

Only 1% of Japan’s Largest Reef Still Healthy After Historic Bleaching Catastrophe

In a sobering reminder of the impact of climate change on marine biodiversity, a survey by the Japanese government found that barely more than one percent of the coral in the country's largest coral reef is healthy, AFP reported Friday.

The reef, located in the Sekisei Lagoon near Okinawa, has suffered mass coral bleaching events due to rising sea temperatures in 1998, 2001, 2007 and 2016.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!