US Set to Lead in Global PV Output; New Jersey Catching up to California

According to GreenTech Media Research, the United States is closing in on the front runner position to head the global solar photovoltaic (PV) marketplace. The US is poised on the brink of growth explosion, and sales are expected to double by 2011.

German solar industry association BSW states that Germany is currently the largest solar PV market worldwide, but the report (titled ‘The United States PV Market Through 2013: Project Economics, Policy, Demand and Strategy’) indicates that the U.S. will sweep past Germany to take first place globally in the field of solar sales and installation.

The reason? US demand for solar has skyrocketed thanks to federal mandates, and is expected to keep growing, with a rise of about 50 percent, from 320 megawatts in 2008 to a projected 1,212 megawatts (1.2 gigawatts) in 2012. There is even the possibility of topping  2 gigawatts by that date if federal, state and regional incentives keep expanding.

California currently holds the title for US solar PV leadership, but rising solar PV demand puts other states (Arizona, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada and Massachusetts) in play. These are expected to  collectively support 376 megawatts of PV generated electricity by  2012.

The growth is expected to occur primarily in residential and utility-scale sectors. Investors are increasingly willing to support utility-scale solar as a reliable, long-term investment thanks to state renewable portfolio standards, or RPSs. These mandate higher limits of renewable energy in a utility’s generation mix. Utility or power companies unable to comply can make up the deficit by buying credits from residential and commercial owners of PV systems through SREC programs like the one available in New Jersey..

New Jersey offers solar renewable energy credits, or SRECs, for energy produced through PV. These trade in excess of $600 on the market, and cqan be purchased by private investors against rises in future value, or by power companies to help satisfy their alternative energy quotas.

In addition, the grants available to commercial installations make it easier for mom and pop stores to install and run PV systems – the average time to pay off a system is four years, and all SRECs generated after that time are pure profit.

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