Solar Power Generation Growing Rapidly
Despite economic uncertainty and rapidly dropping natural gas prices, solar power generating capacity has continued to boom both domestically and globally.
The world's most well developed consumer of solar power, Germany crossed an important milestone in May when for the first time a full tenth of its power generation came from solar. This leap into double digits represents a 40% year over year increase in solar power generation for the country, driven in part by its recent commitment to transition away from reliance on nuclear power.
Photovoltaic continue to set records in the United States as well, despite substantially higher installation costs than in Germany. Americans brought a record breaking 506 megawatts of solar generating capacity online in the first quarter of 2012, a 12.9% increase in national capacity in just three months. This comes on tail of a 109% increase in installations in 2011 that some experts had attributed to now expired government subsidies, demonstrating that domestic demand for solar products at current prices is far from exhausted.
According to Rhone Resch, the president of the industry association that released the growth figures, "the growth is coming from consumers who are... waking up to the realization that putting solar on your home or business is a better investment than the stock market." While currently on track to break the 2011 record, it remains to be seen how the recent anti-dumping ruling will impact domestic demand in the second half of 2012.
Despite these impressive numbers in the west, the crown for strongest market growth unquestionably goes to China with an annual installation expansion rate of 470% according to Solarbuzz.com Driven in part by the desire to absorb the massive glut of photovoltaic solar panels being generated by its domestic producers, the Chinese government has announced plans to quadruple its solar installation base by 2015. Some experts expect that this target could be reached as early as 2013.