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Blog: Solar Industry Having a Strong Year in 2013

The solar industry is having an outstanding year in 2013, and the immediate future looks even more promising, according to a recent report from the Solar Energy Industries Assn (SEIA), all of which is good for distributors serving this alternative energy market.

Indicative of that growth, a series of new solar projects have been announced just in the past few weeks that will lead to thousands of construction jobs.

The SEIA says that the U.S. market will see over 100,000 individual solar systems by the end of the year, noting that cumulative installed photovoltaic (PV) capacity will surpass 10 gigawatts.

In addition, the U.S. share of global solar installations will reach a high of 13 percent, up from 5 percent in 2008.

The association did note, however, that although growth has been strong for solar in the U.S., the commercial (or non residential) market has been slow in 2013.

Deployment figures in the utility solar market, overall, continue to grow, and the association anticipates a record year in 2013 with over 2.4 GW of utility PV installed. However, utilities in a number of key states (most notably California) have slowed down their procurement of power from new solar projects, leaving some developers with stranded early-stage assets.

In the latest solar announcement, Google announced that it’s investing $103 million in Mount Signal Solar, a 265.7 MW solar photovoltaic plant in Imperial County, Calif. The project, which is owned and operated by Silver Ridge Power (formerly AES Solar), will generate enough energy to power 80,000 homes, ¬†and will also create over 900 construction jobs in a part of the state that suffers from high unemployment.

Meanwhile, business is increasing for SolarCity Corp., which installs solar panels. In a regulatory filing a week ago, SolarCity expects to nearly double its amount of installations in 2014 and plans to issue a new round of stock and debt to fund the expansion

The solar company’s shares have more than quintupled since it went public last December.

The firm now reportedly expects to install between 475 megawatts and 525 megawatts of solar panels on the roofs of buildings next year, up from the 278 megawatts the company expects to install this year.

In addition, SolarCity bought smaller rival Paramount Solar in August, and also recently purchased Zep Solar, a supplier of equipment used to mount the panels on rooftops.

In another solar development, First Solar, Inc. and K Road Power Holdings LLC announced that First Solar has acquired from K Road the 250 megawatt (MW) photovoltaic Moapa Solar Project in Nevada.

The Moapa Solar Project, located on the Moapa River Indian Reservation in Clark County, northeast of Las Vegas, Nevada, is the first large-scale solar project approved to be built on tribal land in North America. The project is in an advanced stage of development, and has in place a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP).

Construction of the project, situated within a 2,000-acre segment of the Moapa Band of Paiutes tribal land, could start as soon as the fourth quarter of 2013, and be completed by the end of 2015. The project is expected to create up to 400 jobs during peak of construction, and other permanent jobs when the power plant is in operation. First Solar will design and build the project, using its Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) thin film solar modules.

First Solar Inc., considered to be the largest solar plant builder in the U.S., also says it will construct a 250MW solar power plant in Riverside County, Calif., for a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources.

The McCoy project will be built on about 2,300 acres of mostly federal land near Blythe, California, and is close to the Desert Sunlight solar farm, another project being built by First Solar, the company said. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

Construction is expected to begin in late 2014, with completion in late 2016. The project will provide up to 400 construction jobs at peak operation.

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