2014-03-05. A Bright Year for Solar in the U.S.—But There Are Clouds on the Horizon.

posted Mar 8, 2014, 4:20 PM by Alan Gould
For GSS Energy Use chapter 10. Excerpt: ...demand for solar increased by 41% in 2013, with 4.75 gigawatts of photovoltaic panels installed last year. (1 GW is about enough energy to power 750,000 homes.) That made solar the second-biggest source of new generation power in the U.S. after natural gas, which is still benefiting from the shale revolution. By the end of 2013, there were more than 440,000 operating solar electric systems in the U.S., with more than 12 GW of photovoltaic (PV) and nearly 1 GW of concentrated solar power. ...While big utility scale plants like Ivanpah, which harnesses the heat of the sun with concentrated solar mirrors, got most of the headlines, it was small-scale residential systems that drove much of the demand last year. Residential projects increased by 60% over 2012 as the price of installing solar fell and as customers took advantage of leasing options—offered by companies like Solarcity, ...that allowed them to purchase panels with little money up front. ...“2013 offered the U.S. solar market the first real glimpse of its path toward mainstream status,” said Shayle Kann, vice president of GTM Research, which follows the clean tech market. ...Last year China installed at least 12 gigawatts of solar capacity, at least 50% more than any other country had ever built in a single year. ...The U.S. solar boom has been fueled in part by cheap solar panels from China, .... But those same cheap Chinese panels have hurt domestic manufacturers of solar PV, even as they’ve helped installers like Solarcity. Several domestic solar manufacturers...have complained that the Chinese government is unfairly subsidizing national solar PV manufacturers, which allows them to undercut their American competitors. In response, the U.S. government agreed in 2012 to impose tariffs of 24 to 36% on Chinese PV panels. ...The U.S. solar industry is at a tipping point, poised to grow its way out of niche status and potentially change the way Americans think—and more importantly, pay for—energy.... http://time.com/12952/solar-energy-surges-concern-over-china/. Bryan Walsh, Time.