The solar energy industry in the United States continues to see growth, as it is one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy in the first quarter of 2011. So far in 2011 the US has installed 252 megawatts of photovoltaic power, which is a 66% growth over the first quarter of 2010. Residential, commercial, AND utility photovoltaic installations are growing in numbers, with commercial solar energy showing the most growth. Declines in cost are also contributing to the growth of photovoltaic installations in the US. Analysts are subsequently predicting the US to hold the world’s largest solar energy market in the next few years.
SolarBridge, a leading micro-inverter manufacturer, recently announced it has raised $19 million in solar energy funding. Micro-inverters are used in solar panels by transforming a current generated by photovoltaic cells into an alternating current. The alternating current is accepted into a power grid. The result is an electrical output that is not diminished when a single solar panel is in the shade or not working. SolarBridge plans on using the money raised in funding to increase production and expand the research and development sectors of the company.
In groundbreaking solar energy news a fossil fuel mega-company purchased $1.3 billion worth of stake in SunPower, the massive solar energy company based in California. Total, the fossil fuel company, is working on a renewable energy initiative that may affect how smaller and independent solar businesses operate, and could affect their chances of success. On the other hand, the acquisition helps the United States become one step closer to becoming the leading solar energy producer and manufacturer in the world. One thing is for certain; the competition for solar energy is heating up.
Two solar energy companies, Abengoa Solar and NextEra Energy Resources were guaranteed loans nearing $2 billion by the US Department of Energy. Both will put the loan towards solar thermal projects. Abengoa Solar will use its $1.2 billion loan guarantee towards their 250 megawatt generating Mojave Solar Project. NextEra Energy Resources will utilize their $682 million for a 250 megawatt project in southern California. Both projects are exemplary of the growth and potential of solar energy in the US, due in part to financial support from the US government.