SPI: US utilities increasingly embracing PV

You won’t have any luck finding exhibitors at the trade show that are unhappy with the prospects for the PV market in the U.S. or disappointed with this year’s SPI.

Projections for the sustainable growth of solar energy use in the United States have been solidly positive. Exhibiting companies like AEG Power Solutions, Skytron, Ideematec, Chint Power, Schletter and Recom reported increasing revenues and expanding operations in the U.S. market and strong networking at the confab.

Shayle Kann, vice president of research at GTM Research expects an increase in the U.S. of at least 4.4 GW of new installed PV capacity this year and with at least 5.6 GW in 2014. "As the example of California shows, photovoltaics in the U.S. is increasingly on the way to grid parity due to cost reductions,” said Kann.

Some 40 MW of commercial and residential PV systems have recently been installed in the state without financial incentives from the California Solar Initiative, which expired a few weeks ago. Kann anticipates that PV installations will continue to grow vigorously in other states like New York, where state financial incentives are also expiring soon. Increasing electricity prices for household consumers are adding to the growth.

Another significant factor in further market growth is the increasing involvement of several U.S. energy companies in the photovoltaic sector, says Kann. He points out that Edison International has recently entered the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) business via Solore, Nextera, Smart Energy Capital, NRG and Solar Power Partners.

On the downside, however, the SPI saw a dramatic drop in the number of exhibitors and visitors. Some 600 exhibitors presented their products at this year’s SPI in Chicago compared to 11,000 in 2012 while attendees numbered 12,000, down from 20,000 a year ago. The decrease, however, did nothing to affect the prevailing positive mood at the event. Next year’s SPI will take place in Las Vegas, Nevada.