An article posted at PV-Tech.org posted this week called attention to the multiple US PV manufacturers planning on adding new US based production capacity for PV modules in the coming years. They state that 10 companies have announced close to 2 GW of new capacity in the US with close to half coming online in 2015. While no CPV companies were included in this count (yet!), this is still exciting news for us in the PV product design and manufacturing space.
While each company has its own motivations for planning additional capacity, I think there are several reasons for this worth exploring. First, the “market expected price / performance” of PV has stabilized drastically in the last several years. Gone are the days of drastic price swings in the market destroying business plan assumptions and a return to a more gradual price / performance improvement over time. This has allowed companies to more successfully plan for long term deployments and capacity addition, which needs at least a few years of stable market conditions to recoup and profit off investments made today.
Second, there is no doubt an effect of the pending tariff on PV modules produced overseas using non-competitive practices. This makes the US instantly a more attractive place to manufacture and avoid tariff measures. It also increase the attractiveness of other approaches, like CPV, which were being forced to compete directly with highly subsidized foreign panels without the advantage of established industry infrastructure.
Third, people in general are getting more familiar with solar energy and what impact it could have for them in their personal and professional lives. The aggregate market for solar is expanding rapidly with niche markets, like off-grid and carports among many others, often growing faster than the market in general. This means plenty of new opportunities for businesses and products flexible enough to meet these demands and service these new customers.
Lastly, with 95% of all PV products looking and feeling exactly the same, a renewed market for US based design and manufacture of new and improved solar products is all but guaranteed. This will get innovative product designers, engineers, scientists excited about solar again and working hard towards an even brighter solar future! This is exactly the case for us here at Arzon Solar, where we’ll soon be announcing some exciting new products for the growing solar energy marketplace. Stay tuned!