2014 – A big year for Solar Industry

The solar industry growing at an accelerated speed. According to according to GTM Research, a solar PV system is installed in the US every four minutes! It is also predicted that by 2016, there could be a solar PV system deployed in America every 80 seconds.

Trending solar news from across the globe reveals that 2014 is very bright for the industry. The survey by GTM research revealed that California has doubled its solar installations this year. The fourth annual National Solar Jobs Census released by The Solar Foundation states that the industry has created about 24,000 new jobs. Investors are now increasingly banking on solar and the policy changes in China and Japan are triggering growth in global PV installations. The statistics are encouraging and proves how far the solar industry has truly come.

Increasing Job Opportunities

One of the most significant signs of the growing importance of solar industry lies in the number of job opportunities the industry provides. The National Solar Jobs Census revealed that one in every 142 new jobs in the U.S. was created by the solar industry, and each day the solar industry creates 56 new jobs across America. The study found that as of November 2013, the solar industry has grown to 142,698 solar workers. This is an almost 20% increase from the 2012 findings and it represents a growth rate that is 10 times faster than what the overall US economy experienced in the same time period, states Frank Andorka, editorial director of Solar Power World. Rather than existing positions that have added solar responsibilities, 77% of the nearly 24,000 new solar workers are new jobs representing 18,211 new jobs created.

The solar job scenario is also favorable in the UK. The extensive survey of the solar job sector conducted by BRE National Solar Centre (NSC) reveals that the solar industry is expecting a tremendous growth over the next 12 months.

Global Solar Installations to increase more than 40GW

The latest quarterly update from Mercom Capital Group forecasts the global solar installations to increase to around 46GW in 2014. IHS, a global information company, states that this 22% growth is largely the result of recent policy changes in two largest markets, China and Japan.  This forecast was based on the recent announcement by the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) that it would increase its target for ground-mount PV projects, as well as its total installation goal. Japan’s extremely strong commercial rooftop market is the key factor for the IHS prediction. It expects the rooftop segment to account for about 60% of the total of 9GW that will be installed in Japan this year. This will represent 45%growth from 6.3GW in 2013. Chinese installations are expected to be in the 13 GW range in 2014.

The US solar market is forecast to install 6.4GW in 2014, according to Mercom Capital Group. Although the system costs in US are still high when compared to Germany, innovative financial instruments including asset-backed securities and third-party finances are helping to reduce costs. PV installations in Germany are forecast to be around 2.75GW in 2014 and United Kingdom and India are expected to install approximately 1GW in 2014.

Traditional Energy Investors Banking on Solar

According to Michael Gorton, co-founder of the Principal Solar Institute, a growing number of traditional oil and gas energy investors are looking at solar as a high-return, low-risk investment opportunity. This is in response to solar energy recently become the first energy choice for distributed residential and commercial settings.  Gorton says that solar energy is quickly becoming an important power partner in the nation’s utility-scale power supply. He added that with the continued annual drop in cost, solar will result is competitive, cheaper electricity with higher profit margins for the industry. He predicts that by 2020, solar projects could produce power at much lower costs than nuclear, coal or natural gas.

Gorton adds that solar has long-term stability of pricing since its fuel is free. With continuing cost-effectiveness, solar will function as a traditional utility investment. Once built, solar produces no pollutants and there are billions to be earned from converting sunlight to electricity.

Solar industry has the potential for delivering more efficient and less costly power as well as creating job opportunities that will boost the economy. Gorton believes that it is cheap, abundant electricity that keep the industry competitive as it is electricity that drives almost every part of the economy.