Cautious optimism in Los Angeles

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More than 1,100 exhibitors, around 20 percent more than last year, were present between the 12th and 14th of October at the Solar Power International (SPI) in downtown LA. Thus the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) and Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) led congress claimed its place behind the Intersolar Europe in Munich and the PVSNEC in Shanghai as the world’s third largest event in the solar branch. The visitor numbers were stagnant at around 27,000, paralleling last year’s numbers.

The emphasis this year was placed on the downstream sector, as presented in Los Angeles by the project and system integrators, the montage and accessories producers and the inverters and module manufacturers. Despite the relentless recession atmosphere in the U.S. and the uncertain political stands, optimism came through. That is what experts like SEPA president Julia Hamm have been expecting. Hamm expects, till the end of this year, an annexed installed power in the USA of 800 to 900 megawatts, translating to a 50 percent growth. " For 2011, our prognoses are still unclear. We await an annex in the U.S. of at least one gigawatt," Hamm told pv magazine. Hamm sees the deciding factors as the pending political decisions pertaining to the Loan Guarantee Program under the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as well as the vote for the continuation of the climate protection program in California.

"Presently, it is unclear how the market will develop in the upcoming year," added Nicholas Morris, associate, business development for Yingli Green Energy America. That is also why the Chinese manufacturer’s plans for a production facility in the U.S. remains frozen.

In contrast, competitor Suntech opened their first U.S. module plant with a first stage development of 30MW in Goodyear, Arizona last week. Also, manufacturers like the German inverters producer Delta Energy Systems announced the development of a U.S. production line for their new central inverters in Los Angeles. "We are convinced, regardless of the short term political decisions, that the U.S market is poised to grow substantially," said vice president Andreas Hoischen to pv magazine.

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