Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Solar Soars as Suniva Case Looms

Popular

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.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A view of a washed out road near Utuado, Puerto Rico, after a Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew dropped relief supplies to residents Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. The locals were stranded after Hurricane Maria by washed out roads and mudslides. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Eric D. Woodall / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

By Coral Natalie Negrón Almodóvar

The Earth began to shake as Tamar Hernández drove to visit her mother in Yauco, Puerto Rico, on Dec. 28, 2019. She did not feel that first tremor — she felt only the ensuing aftershocks — but she worried because her mother had an ankle injury and could not walk. Then Hernández thought, "What if something worse is coming our way?"

Read More
Flooded battery park tunnel is seen after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. CC BY 2.0

President Trump has long touted the efficacy of walls, funneling billions of Defense Department dollars to build a wall on the southern border. However, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) released a study that included plans for a sea wall to protect New Yorkers from sea-level rise and catastrophic storms like Hurricane Sandy, Trump mocked it as ineffective and unsightly.

Read More
Sponsored
A general view of fire damaged country in the The Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area near the town of Blackheath on Feb. 21, 2020 in Blackheath, Australia. Brook Mitchell / Getty Images

In a post-mortem of the Australian bushfires, which raged for five months, scientists have concluded that their intensity and duration far surpassed what climate models had predicted, according to a study published yesterday in Nature Climate Change.

Read More
Sea level rise causes water to spill over from the Lafayette River onto Llewellyn Ave in Norfolk, Virginia just after high tide on Aug. 5, 2017. This road floods often, even when there is no rain. Skyler Ballard / Chesapeake Bay Program

By Tim Radford

The Texan city of Houston is about to grow in unexpected ways, thanks to the rising tides. So will Dallas. Real estate agents in Atlanta, Georgia; Denver, Colorado; and Las Vegas, Nevada could expect to do roaring business.

Read More
Malala Yousafzai (left) and Greta Thunberg (right) met in Oxford University Tuesday. Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

What happens when a famous school striker meets a renowned campaigner for education rights?

Read More