Whether you’re a distributor, contractor or engineer, you know the solar energy business is growing rapidly and requires a steel structure customized for assembling solar panels. You also know that as the solar industry grows, so does its impact on the economy. But did you know that the average cost of a completed PV system dropped by 17 percent in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the first quarter of 2011?
Amid uncertainty in the global economy, the U.S. began 2012 with the second highest quarter for solar installations ever, according to a recent report by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association. As a result of a strong first quarter, the outlook for 2012 has improved and installations will likely total 3.3 GW. Overall, the U.S. Solar Market Insight report predicts annual solar PV installations for 2012 may exceed 3,200 megawatts, 75 percent greater than last year’s total and 15 percent higher than previous annual forecasts for 2012.
That’s good news for anyone who wants a real edge in the industry.
While these numbers are noteworthy, the SEIA advises we remain cautious. Overcoming the U.S. solar market’s greatest challenge, to ultimately drive the price down to traditional fossil fuel sources levels, relies on increasing the production and distribution of solar energy technology.
Not to mention, according to recent headlines, U.S. solar panel manufacturers continue to face increased global competition and uncertainty surrounding global trade disputes.
Read more about the U.S. Commerce Department imposing anti-dumping duties on Chinese solar imports.
Overall, the report illuminates the U.S.’s steady demand for solar energy, driving prices down and increasing its likelihood to be a global solar market leader by 2015. Here are the key findings for PV and CSP, as uncovered by GTM Research and SEIA.
Key Findings for Photovoltaic Technologies:
- PV installations in Q1 2012 reached 506 MW, up 85 percent over Q1 2011
- New Jersey was the largest state market, with 174 megawatts of installations in Q1 2012
- Installed prices fell in every market segment year-over-year compared to Q1 2011
- Commercial installed prices fell 11.5 percent, and utility prices fell 24.7 percent over Q1 2011
- Cumulative operating PV capacity in the U.S. now totals 4,427 megawatts (direct current)
Key Findings for Concentrating Solar Power:
- Abengoa’s Solana Generating Station received a $125 million investment from Capital Riesgo Global, a subsidiary of Banco Santander, for an equity stake in the project
- Construction of the power tower at the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project was completed in February 2012
- A total of 1.1 gigawatts (alternating current) of CSP are now under construction
We Support Solar. Literally.
We at JMC Steel Group can attest to the increase in forecasted installations for 2012, which is due to an accelerated timeline for large-scale utility projects. In 2011, we estimated that our steel would be used in approximately 30MW of utility-scale solar projects. Our products ended up being used in 250 megawatts of solar projects in North America.
Moreover, the SEIA reports that Q1 2012 reached 506 megawatts—that’s up 85 percent over Q1 2011 and more than any other first quarter on record. Having the largest size range of structural tubing in North America and the ability to manufacturer custom sizes allowed us to produce the exact product needed for any job and reduce costs caused by additional wall thicknesses and lengths.
Just last year, the Atlas Tube division was called upon to manufacture 1,200 tons of large size hollow structural section squares and rectangles to be used for the San Ramon School District Solar Carport project. Read more about this project.
As a steel tube manufacturer with seven production facilities across North America, JMC can manufacturer and ship directly to the job site reducing shipping charges. We’re confident we can meet the SEIA’s 2012 projections and provide you the most cost-effective solution that meets your performance requirements.
Spec Projects Sunny Side Up
Research solar project grants and follow the progress of local, state and federal laws that mandate energy efficient buildings and impact North American solar-product companies.
Considering solar will not only create a tremendous advantage for contractors, but also guarantee a cleaner and brighter future for generations to come.