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U.S. a top destination for solar panel manufacturers

Lucas Mearian | Oct. 26, 2015
Worldwide solar panel demand is expected to increase from about 57GW this year to 135GW in 2020.

SolarCity Solar Panel Plant Buffalo
SolarCity is building one of the world's largest solar panel production plants in Buffalo, N.Y. When completed next year, it is expected to manufacture enough solar panels to produce 1 gigawatt (1 billion watts) of power within its first two years. Credit: SolarCity

A new report has placed the U.S. as one of the most attractive nations for manufacturing solar panels.

The report, from GTM Research, noted that close to 10% of the world's new module manufacturing projects this year are slated for the U.S.

Solar panel map 
Nations seen as most attractive to PV manufacturing. Click on image to enlarge. Credit: GTM Research

“The U.S. is a very attractive country for manufacturing and ranks higher than any other high-cost country because of its robust domestic demand and access to markets globally,” said report author and GTM Research solar analyst Mohit Anand.

According to GTM Research's report the top five nations are China, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia and the U.S.

Importantly, all the announcements for new solar module manufacturing ventures were outside of China, and included the U.S., India, Thailand, South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brazil. However, in the coming years, China and the rest of Asia will still have 77% of all PV (photovoltaic) solar panel manufacturing.

“Anything that helps grow domestic demand, including an extension of the federal Investment Tax Credit, would further support U.S. attractiveness to manufacturers,” Anand stated.

The federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is often cited as a major factor in spurring solar power adoption, but it is set to expire next year. The ITC, passed in 2008, offers a 30% tax credit for residential and business installations for solar energy. When it expires in 2016, the tax credit will drop to a more permanent 10%.

In fifth place for manufacturing "attractiveness," the U.S. provides significant access to heavy domestic demand, as well as access to markets globally, attractive government support for PV manufacturing businesses, and "an excellent business environment," GTM's report noted.

In the past few years, however, two factors began to alleviate a global oversupply of PV modules: First, consolidation and facility closures tightened the supply as module prices fell from 2012-2014; and global photovoltaic demand is expected to increase substantially over the next five years, leading to a 135GW (gigawatt or a billion watts) market in 2020. Today, PV installation worldwide amounts to at most 57GW, according to IHS Research.

screen shot 2015 10 23 at 2.26.46 pm 
Solar panel installations worldwide. Click on image to enlarge. Credit: IHS Research

 

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