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Changing Prospects for Solar Energy Industry

published: 2011-04-22 17:29

Recently, the market price quotations in the solar industry, affected by the uncertainty of the European subsidy policy, have been trending down, which in turn hurts manufacturers’ financial performances. Many used to believe that only DRAM and TFT panel industries suffer drastic market changes on half-yearly basis, but now the market trend of the solar industry is getting harder to predict. In the past, the market trend of the solar industry usually changed on quarterly basis. However, with the intensifying market change since 2H10, the outlook of solar market now varies every month.

Due to the slow demand in the European market and the fact that downstream manufacturers are digesting inventory from 1Q11, many silicon wafer suppliers have cut their prices. Without the demand rebound, the 2Q11 performance will continue to be compromised by the ongoing inventory digestion. Although many silicon wafer manufacturers have expanded their capacities, the sales revenues growth in 2Q11 will still be limited by the slow market demand and the ASP decline.

Though uncertainty has made it hard to discern the global market trend, the U.S government surely supports this renewable energy technology. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently decided to pledge a $2.1 billion loan for German developer Solar Millennium in order to secure the 1000-megawatt solar thermal project in Southern California.

Over the past nine months, the California Energy Commission (CEC) has approved a series of solar power plant projects, including the Blythe solar power project, which is the largest among the projects and is supported by US government loan guarantee. The $ 2.1 billion loan will fund the first two stages of the complex project, which will generate 484 megawatts of electricity and employ 1,000 construction workers.

US Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement: “Loan guarantees play an important role in facilitating the development and deployment of innovative technologies at massive scope and scale. Continued investments like this project make solar power more efficient and cost competitive while creating thousands of jobs and strengthening the economy.”

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