The recent spike in bad news focused on the Solyndra debacle is obscuring the positive long-term trend for solar energy. Installations of photovoltaic solar panels increased by 69% during the first half of 2011, compared with the same time period for 2010, says the U.S. Solar Market Insight quarterly report. In the second half of 2011, growth is expected to continue with 1,750 megawatts installed for the whole year. “The U.S. markets are expanding and heading toward becoming the largest in the world, and our goal is certainly to surpass Germany and Italy and some of those markets that are larger than us today. The resilience and the core stability of this market is remarkable given the economic conditions that exist today,” said Rhone Resch, from the Solar Energy Institute of America. (Source: Cleanenergyauthority.com)
New Jersey’s commercial solar capacity grew 170% in the second quarter of this year. The eastern state’s commercial solar profile now exceeds California’s, though the Golden State is far more populous, and has more annual sunlight. New Jersey’s solar energy growth is related to state policies encouraging both residential and commercial installations. At the state level, solar rebates and tax breaks are working.
Jump-starting solar manufacturers with federal loans is another matter. We all need to understand these are separate efforts, and not become distracted by a single failure, which actually was not a failure of technology, but of bureaucracy influenced by politics. America’s total solar capacity is currently about 3,100 megawatts, or enough to power about 630,000 homes. Germany is planning to add another 7,000 megawatts just in the next two years. They are Europe’s leading solar nation, and are moving towards phasing out nuclear power,and is leading in solar energy with more to come. A single German town now produces far more energy with clean sources than it uses, and actually sells it, making millions of dollars each year.
The report’s author said he hopes America’s solar installations will double this year, as it did in 2010. Why isn’t the mainstream media reporting extensively on the possibility that America’s photovoltaic installations, both residential and commercial, could double two years in a row? Solar is a growing, and resilient industry with more new installations, employing many people. It is solar research and development that is volatile, which makes it just like all other emerging technology fields.
Image Credit: Jake Richardson