A worldwide oversupply of solar panels hasn’t seemed to effect the solar installation side of the industry in the United States so far this year. In fact, recent statistics prove quite the opposite: solar installations in the U.S. are up 85 percent from January to March this year when compared with the first quarter of last year.
In the wake of the report, GTM Research for the Solar Energy Industries Associations has increased its solar capacity forecast for 2012. It now predicts U.S. installations to top 3,300 MW this year; GTM originally predicted in March only 2,500 to 2,800 MW of capacity installed this year. If this proves accurate, it will make the United States the 4th largest market in the world and home to 11 percent of the world’s solar capacity.
The numbers are particularly surprising given that the first quarter is historically the lowest of the year.
Solar industry professionals are thrilled. “This really shows the beginning of what we think is going to be a breakout year for the U.S. solar industry,” said Rhone Resch in a press release.
Rhone is president of the Solar Energy Industries Association.
Reuters reports that the strong numbers for the beginning of the year are probably the result of solar developers finishing up work started under a popular U.S. grant program that expired in December of 2011.
The U.S. installation market remains strong even after a U.S. Commerce Department decision recently that found Chinese manufacturers guilty of awarding unfair subsidies on their solar manufacturers, who in turn “dumped” equipment in the U.S. The Commerce Department has imposed new tariffs on imported Chinese solar equipment.
American manufacturers laud the Commerce Department’s decision. U.S. solar installers, on the other hand, oppose the tariff, saying that inexpensive Chinese solar panels have stimulated American consumers to invest in a technology that they couldn’t otherwise afford. Chinese-produced solar panels accounted for about 50 percent of the solar installation market last year.