SPI: Cost reduction driving solar in the US

Among utility-scale PV projects in California, payment rates under power purchase agreements (PPAs) have fallen to $0.05 to $0.06 per kilowatt hour, one industry insider attending the SPI in Chicago told pv magazine. Officially published PPA prices for large-scale PV projects in California range between $0.07 and $0.08 per kilowatt hour.

Suppliers such as tracker manufacturer Array Technologies report excellent business. According to marketing director Denise Hugo, Array is installing tracker systems for large-scale plants with a volume of 1 GW through the end of the year; in 2012 the volume reached only 600 MW. Due to high demand, the company hired 50 new employees this year at its main plant in New Mexico, Hugo said. Array is expecting further growth in the coming year.

Likewise, Italian inverter manufacturer Bonfiglioli, which produces for the U.S. market out of Ontario, Canada, expects further business increases in the U.S. "We expect that the U.S. will be our most important market worldwide in the coming year," Andrea Rossi, Bonfiglioli’s business development manager, told pv magazine. Bonfiglioli has been mainly active in large-scale plant operations in the U.S., although the company is considering expanding into the residential area, according to Rossi.

Prices for private rooftop installations have also fallen by more than 40% in the past two years, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

Due to the price and cost reductions, analysts such as Michael Barker of NPD Solarbuzz also see no problem with the announced cuts in tax incentives for the purchase of solar systems from the current 30% to 10% beginning in 2017.

Exhibitors like Schletter, Mounting Systems and Exosun likewise expressed satisfaction with the trade fair and reported high interest among visitors.