Solar Manufacturing Boomed in Q4 – and Biz May Be Busy with Installations in 2018

by | Mar 26, 2018

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Just how fast is solar growing? A look at solar PV manufacturing in 2017 – as well as at announcements of expansion plans in the fourth quarter – may indicate a coming boom, in spite of tariffs. And though residential tightened by about 16%, commercial soared.

A significant slowdown in announcements of capacity expansion of solar PV manufacturing happened in the third quarter of 2017, but the fourth quarter showed a significant rebound, despite increased concerns over the potential imposition of restrictive trade practices, writes PV Tech.

Total combined capacity expansion plans announced in Q4 2017 surpassed 40GW, according to the article.

And news announcements of commercial installations continue to abound. Two examples from today include:

  • The Town of Hartford commissioned two rooftop projects on Town buildings in February 2018 in order to see “long-term savings and energy price stability.” Norwich Solar Technologies of White River Junction installed a 98-kilowatt DC, net-metered solar photovoltaic (PV) system on the rooftop of the town’s Wastewater Treatment Plant as well as a 37-kilowatt DC system on the Public Works building, according to Vermont Biz.
  • The University of Hawaii announced that its Maui College campus is on track to become one of the first in the US to derive 100% of its energy from on-site PV systems coupled with battery storage, according to Digital Trends. The initiative is the result of a partnership with Johnson Controls and Pacific Current.


Commercial Solar Soared in 2017, as Payback Periods Shrink

The commercial industry grew about 28% in 2017, according to PV Magazine, and BOSS Magazine points out that solar power for businesses can be a low-risk investment that typically offers returns of around 14%.

When PV cells were less efficient, the energy payback time was considered “too long” by many, and to some degree, the myth that this form of renewable energy is not valid has persisted – but payback time has now decreased to just a few years and such claims that this renewable form of energy is too slow to pay for itself are no longer valid, an article from CleanTechnica claims. The DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy says the energy payback estimates for rooftop PV systems are: 4 years for systems using current multicrystalline-silicon PV modules, 3 years for current thin-film modules, 2 years for anticipated multicrystalline modules, and 1 year for anticipated thin-film modules.

The top 5 US commercial solar deployments in 2017 came from SunPower, Tesla, NRG, NextEra Energy, and Geronimo Energy.

Photo credit: Tesla Commercial Solar

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