support have set the stage for explosive growth in the US solar market
over the next decade, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the
world's leading provider of research and analysis into clean energy
and the carbon markets.
Solar-powered generating capacity – using photovoltaic and solar
thermal electricity technologies – could reach 4.3% of the nation's
power capacity by 2020, depending on the industry's ability to attract
an estimated $100bn of investment.
The US today has just 1.4 gigawatts of installed solar power capacity,
ranking it fifth globally. But that could rise to 44 gigawatts by
2020, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. In a new report,
forecast capacity from large-scale solar thermal projects is projected
to rise from 0.4 gigawatts currently to 14 gigawatts by 2020. For
photovoltaics, the group anticipates a 34% annual growth rate to 30
gigawatts by 2020.
Bloomberg New Energy Finance research shows that the cost of a typical
photovoltaic module has dropped by more than half over the past two
years. However, solar power is still expensive compared to other power
sources. The group's latest analysis places the unsubsidized cost of
best-in-class photovoltaic and solar thermal electricity generation at
just below $200/megawatt-hour -- nearly four times the equivalent cost
for a coal-fired power plant ($56/megawatt-hour) -- and between two
and four times the cost of onshore wind power.
Michael Liebreich, chief executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance
said: "There is a very positive growth story for solar in the US: a
few more years of support, and then the engine of unsubsidized
competitiveness will take over – and the world will never be the same.
The important thing right now is to ensure policy stability, to give
investors confidence during this critical period. The US solar
industry will require private sector investment of $100bn during the
next decade, and any hint that the government's commitment to clean
energy could waver and investors will run for cover."