The U.S. Solar Energy Market in a World Perspective

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The U. S. solar energy market has been soaring for the past three years, as production, shipments, installations, and sales have skyrocketed between 2005 and 2007. With many factors aligned in its favor—ever-higher nonrenewable energy prices, ever-lower solar prices, climate change, energy security, a solidifying market structure, solar stocks on fire, and the federal government finally beginning to get behind solar—the upward trajectory appears set to continue. Yet looking to 2008 and beyond, obstacles and challenges remain to be addressed and overcome before the solar power market begins to reach a true take-off stage into the mainstream.

This SBI study examines the dynamics both pushing solar forward and holding it back. Comprehensive data on shipments, along with sales estimates and five-year projections, are offered for all three major solar categories: solar electric (PV), solar thermal, and concentrating solar power (CSP). Companies competing in the multitude of solar segments and niche areas are listed and discussed, with five major competitors profiled.

Key trends—including technological, investment, financing, and government involvement—are analyzed, and the developing solar distribution structure is explained. The overall picture that emerges is of a market set to create conditions for a new industrial boom cycle.

Research Methodology:
This study is based on a wide variety of sources, both primary and secondary. Primary data sources include the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) and PV Energy Systems (Prometheus Institute). Information and analysis is based on numerous secondary sources. These include Renewable Energy Access, Clean Edge, Greentech Media, Green Wombat, C-Net, Grist, and many other web-based research and journalistic Internet sites. Other information was gleaned from proprietary information searches and popular journals. On-site inspections of solar distributors and dealer/installers also added depth to our analysis.

Chapter 1 Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Scope of Study: All Solar Systems and Products
  • Not Included: Other Renewable Energy (RE) Sources
  • Not Included (With Qualifications): Nonrenewable Energy
  • (NRE) Sources
  • Research Methodology
  • Study Focus Primarily on PV
  • Photovoltaic (PV) Cells
  • Silicon PV
  • Thin Film PV Cells
  • BOS Components: Inverters
  • Batteries
  • Charge Controllers
  • Mounts/Racks
  • Solar Thermal Systems
  • Concentrating Solar Power
  • Solar Water Pumps
  • Solar Remote Systems
  • Mobile/Portable Solar Systems
  • Consumer/Other Products

  • The Solar Market
    • The Global PV Market: Total Annual Production
    • Table 1-1 Total Global PV Production (1995-2007)
    • Annual Production by Country
    • U.S. Leads in Thin Film Production
    • The U.S. Solar Market: Total and Domestic Shipments
    • Table 1-2 U.S. Annual PV Shipments (Cells/Modules): Total/Domestic/Export (2002-2006) (MW)
    • Crystal Silicon vs. Thin Film
    • Table 1-3 U.S. PV Shipments: Crystal Silicon/Thin Film/Concentrator Cells (2002-2006) (% MW)
    • Retail Prices and Grid Parity
    • Total Solar Thermal Collector Shipments
    • Table 1-4 Total U.S. Solar Thermal Collector Shipments: 2000-2006 (Millions Square Feet)
    • Boom in High-Temperature Shipments
    • Table 1-5 Total U.S. Solar Thermal Collector Shipments: By Temperature Type (2004-2006) (Millions Square Feet)
    • Estimated Combined PV/ST Sales: 2003 to 2007
    • Table 1-6 U.S. Solar Power Market: Estimated Total Dollar Sales (2003-2007) ($ Millions)
    • Five External Factors Favor Future Growth
    • Internal Factors Favoring Growth
    • A Final Favorable Factor: Technological Momentum
    • Negative Factors in Growth: Overview
    • Sales Projection: 2008-2012
    • Table 1-7 U.S. Solar Power Market: Projected Total Dollar Sales (2008-2012) ($ Millions)

  • Solar Competitors
    • Types and Size
    • Most Maintain Specialized Focus
    • Domestic vs. Foreign Marketers
    • Marketer Share: Global PV Production
    • Table 1-8 Global PV Production Share: By Company (2006)

  • Solar Market Trends
    • Globalization of U.S. Solar Market
    • Horizontal and Vertical Integration
    • Commodity Production Now the Name of the Game
    • Stock Market Trends
    • Financing Trends
    • Emerging Financing Models
    • PV Trends: The Silicon Shortage
    • PV Trends: Thin Film
    • Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) Trends
    • Solar Thermal Trends
    • Federal Government Trends
    • California Trends
    • Distribution Structure
      • Overview: Theme and Variations

    Chapter 2 Solar Systems/Products

    • Introduction: Market Parameters
      • Scope of Study: All Solar Systems and Products
      • Not Included: Other Renewable Energy (RE) Sources
      • Not Included (With Qualifications): Nonrenewable Energy (NRE) Sources
      • Distributed vs. Centralized Generation
      • Note on Abbreviations

    • Solar-Electric (Photovoltaic) Systems
      • Overview: Solar-Electric vs. Solar-Thermal Technology
      • Study Focus Primarily on PV
      • Photovoltaic (PV) Cells
      • Basic Cell Elements
      • Silicon PV
      • Crystalline Cells
      • Monocrystalline Cells
      • Polycrystalline Cells
      • Mono More Efficient Than Poly
      • Boules, Blocks, and “Kerf”
      • The String Ribbon Method
      • Standard Crystal Silicon Cell Processing
      • Cells into Modules
      • Thin Film PV Cells
      • Six Thin Film Types
      • Thin Film Attributes and Drawbacks
      • Amorphous-Silicon (a-Si)
      • Thin Films, BIPV, and Durability
      • PV Systems: On-Grid vs. Off-Grid
      • DC Solar vs. AC Utility
      • BOS Components: Inverters
      • Batteries
      • Charge Controllers
      • Mounts/Racks
      • Solar Trackers
      • Accessories

    • Solar Thermal Systems
      • Overview
      • Solar Heating and Cooling of Water and Air
      • Solar Heating Systems: Active and Passive
      • Solar Water Heating Systems: Collectors
      • Evacuated-Tube Collectors
      • Solar Water Heating: Low vs. Medium Temperature
      • Water Heating Systems: Active vs. Passive
      • Active Water Heating Systems: Direct (Open-Loop)
      • Active Water Heating Systems: Indirect (Closed-Loop)
      • Passive Water Heating Systems
      • ICS (Batch) Systems
      • Thermosiphon Systems
      • Swimming Pool Systems
      • Solar Air Heating Systems: More Complex
      • Active Air Heating Systems: Low Temperature
      • Active Air Heating Systems: Medium Temperature
      • Radiant Floor Systems
      • High-Temperature Industrial Systems
      • Passive Air Heating Systems
      • Three Basic Types
      • Solar Cooling Systems

    • Concentrating Solar Power (CSP)
      • CSP Basics
      • CSP vs. Conventional PV
      • CSP So Far Limited to Desert Settings
      • Dishes, Troughs, and Power Towers

    • Other Solar Systems/Products
      • Solar Water Pumps
      • Solar Remote Systems
      • Mobile/Portable Solar Systems
      • Consumer/Other Products

    Chapter 3 The Solar Market

    • U.S. Solar Market in a Global Context
    • Overview
    • The Global PV Market: Total Annual Production
    • Table 3-1 Total Global PV Production (1995-2007)
    • Total Cumulative Production
    • Table 3-2 World Cumulative Production (2000-2007)
    • Annual Production by Country
    • Table 3-3 Global PV Production: % MW Share (2006)
    • Table 3-4 U.S. PV Production: 2000-2006 (MW)
    • U.S. Leads in Thin Film Production—For Now
    • Table 3-5 Thin Film Production: % Share (2003-2006)
    • Annual Installations by Country
    • Table 3-6 Global PV Annual Installations: Germany, Japan, U.S. (2005-2007) (MW)
    • Table 3-7 U.S. Annual PV Installations: 2001-2007 (MW)

  • The U.S. PV Market
    • Overview
    • Total and Domestic Shipments
    • Table 3-8 U.S. Annual PV Shipments (Cells/Modules): Total/Domestic/Export (2002-2006) (MW)
    • Exports
    • Table 3-9 Share of US PV Shipments: Domestic vs. Exports (2002-2006) (MW)
    • Imports
    • Table 3-10 U.S. PV Shipments: Imports (2002-2006) (MW)
    • Export Destinations
    • Table 3-11 Share of US Exports of PV Cells/Modules: By Country/Continent (2006) (MW)
    • Shipments by Type: Cells vs. Modules
    • Table 3-12 Percent Share of U.S. PV Shipments: Cells vs. Modules (2002-2006) (% MW)
    • Crystal Silicon vs. Thin Film
    • Table 3-13 U.S. PV Shipments: Crystal Silicon/Thin Film/Concentrator Cells (2002-2006) (% MW)
    • Table 3-14 U.S. PV Shipments: Exports by Crystal Silicon vs. Thin Film (2005/2006) (MW)
    • Thin Film Numbers in Flux
    • PV Shipments Distribution
    • By Market Sector
    • Table 3-15 Percent Share of U.S. PV Shipments: Distribution by Market Sector (2005/2006) (% MW)
    • By Distribution Channel
    • Table 3-16 U.S. PV Shipments Units and Share: Distribution by Distribution Channel (2006) (MW)
    • By End-Use
    • Table 3-17 Percent Share of U.S. PV Shipments: Distribution by End-Use (2005/2006) (% MW)
    • Value of PV Shipments
    • Table 3-18 U.S. PV Shipments: $ Value by Type (2005/2006) ($ Millions)
    • Figure 3-1 Share of U.S. PV Shipment Dollar Value: Crystal Silicon vs. Thin Film (2006)
    • Prices: Crystal Silicon PV
    • Table 3-19 U.S. PV Prices: Crystal Silicon Cells vs. Modules (2005/2006)
    • Prices: Thin Film PV
    • Price Per Installed Watt
    • Retail Prices and Grid Parity
    • PV Efficiency

  • The U.S. Solar Thermal Market
    • Overview
    • Total ST Collector Shipments
    • Table 3-20 Total U.S. Solar Thermal Collector Shipments: 2000-2006 (Millions Square Feet)
    • Boom in High-Temperature Shipments
    • Table 3-21 Total U.S. Solar Thermal Collector Shipments: By Temperature Type (2004-2006) (Millions Square Feet)
    • Medium-Temp Shipments by Segment
    • Figure 3-2 Share of Solar Thermal Shipments by Medium-Temperature Segment (2006)
    • Value of ST Shipments
    • Table 3-22 Total U.S. Solar Thermal Collector Shipments: Dollar Value by Temperature Type (2005/2006) ($ Millions)
    • Medium-Temp Shipments Value
    • ST Prices
    • ST Distribution: By Market Sector
    • Figure 3-3 Share of Solar Thermal Shipments by Market Sector (2006)
    • By Distribution Channel
    • By End-Use
    • Figure 3-4 Share of Solar Thermal Shipments by End-Use (2006)
    • ST Exports
    • Domestic ST Shipments by State

  • U.S. Solar Market: Sales and Growth
    • Estimated Combined PV/ST Sales: 2003 to 2007
    • Table 3-23 U.S. Solar Power Market: Estimated Total Dollar Sales (2003-2007) ($ Millions)
    • Sales and Growth by Category

  • Factors in Future Growth
    • Positive Factors in Growth: Overview
    • Five External Factors Favor Growth
    • The Economy: NRE Prices and Supplies
    • Ecology: Climate Change
    • Politics: National Security
    • Private Sector Investment
    • Public Sector Support
    • Internal Factors Favoring Growth
    • The Solar Sales Pitch
    • Long-Term Benefits
    • Medium-Term Benefits
    • Short-Term Benefits
    • Remote Infrastructure: Immediate Benefits
    • Transportation: Solar Lights/Signals
    • Telecommunications: Repeaters and Sensors
    • Remote Buildings/Facilities
    • Rural and Emergency Response
    • A Final Favorable Factor: Technological Momentum
    • Growing Excitement
    • Negative Factors in Growth: Overview
    • Expensive Price
    • Systems Affordability
    • Lack of Investment
    • Government Involvement
    • Favorable Foreign Frameworks
    • California and the Other States
    • Lukewarm Federal Support
    • Legal/Regulatory Issues
    • Utility Obstacles
    • The Credit Crisis
    • Technological Issues: The Silicon Shortage
    • Thin Film Comes on Strong—But Skeptics Unconvinced
    • CSP Suddenly Booming—But Questions Remain

  • Market Projections
    • Sales Projection: 2008-2012
    • Table 3-24 U.S. Solar Power Market: Projected Total Dollar Sales (2008-2012) ($ Millions)
    • Assumptions
    • PV Projections
    • Solar Thermal Projections

    Chapter 4 The Competitors

    • Overview
    • Competitive Context
    • Highly Scientific
    • New “Distributed” Paradigm
    • Public/Private Interaction
    • Young Formation
    • Myriad Divisions
    • Extra-Market Factors Integral to Market Structure
    • Solar Competitors
      • Types and Size
      • Most Maintain Specialized Focus
      • Domestic vs. Foreign Marketers
      • Marketer Share: Global PV Production
      • Table 4-1 Global PV Production Share: By Company (2006)
      • Major Share Shakeup on the Way
      • Competitors by Product Category/Segment
        • Competitors: PV Cells/Modules
        • Table 4-2 Selected List of U.S. Solar Market Competitors: PV Cells and Modules
        • Competitors: Thin Film
        • Table 4-3 Selected List of U.S. Solar Market Competitors: Thin Film
        • Competitors: PV Manufacturing Equipment
        • Table 4-4 Selected List of U.S. Solar Market Competitors: PV Cell/Module Manufacturing Equipment
        • Competitors: Concentrating Solar Power (CSP)
        • Table 4-5 Selected List of U.S. Solar Market Competitors: CSP/CVP
        • Competitors: Inverters
        • Table 4-6 Selected List of U.S. Solar Market Competitors: Inverters
        • Competitors: Charge Controllers
        • Table 4-7 Selected List of U.S. Solar Market Competitors: Charge Controllers
        • Competitors: Batteries
        • Table 4-8. Selected List of U.S. Solar Market Competitors: Batteries
        • Competitors: Electronic Measuring and Monitoring Products
        • Competitors: Solar System Mounts/Racks
        • Table 4-9 Selected List of U.S. Solar Market Competitors: Mounts/Racks
        • Competitors: Solar Thermal Systems
        • Table 4-10 Selected List of U.S. Solar Market Competitors: Solar-Thermal Products/Systems
        • Competitors: Solar Pumps
        • Table 4-11 Selected List of U.S. Solar Market Competitors: Solar Pumps
        • Competitors: Passive Solar Systems
        • Table 4-12 Selected List of U.S. Solar Market Competitors: Passive Solar Products/Systems
        • Competitors: Solar Lighting Systems
        • Table 4-13 Selected List of U.S. Solar Market Competitors: Solar Lighting
        • Competitors: Solar Cooking Ovens and Refrigerators/Freezers/AC
        • Table 4-14 Selected List of U.S. Solar Market Competitors: Solar Oven Marketers
        • Competitors: Solar Consumer Products
        • Competitors: Portable/Mobile Solar Generators
        • Competitive Profiles
          • Introduction
          • Competitive Profile: SunPower
          • Amazing Strengths
          • Large-Scale Projects, International Expansion
          • Recent U.S. Projects
          • Skyrocketing Production
          • Solar Access Financing Program
          • Quantum Leap in Sales
          • Speculation
          • Profile: Sharp Solar
          • Global Leader with Major U.S. Presence
          • Solar Pioneer
          • Small-Scale Focus
          • Aesthetics
          • Convenience
          • Horizontal Integration
          • A Rare Solar Advertiser
          • Into A-Si Hybrids
          • Speculation
          • Competitive Profile: First Solar
          • Tops in Thin Film
          • Cadmium Telluride Mystery Success
          • Company History
          • Production Explosion
          • Supply Already Spoken For
          • Sales Fireworks
          • Utility-Scale Hopes
          • Speculation
          • Competitive Profile: Nanosolar
          • A CIGS Breakthrough
          • VC Investment History
          • Huge Production in Silicon Valley
          • Speculation
          • Competitive Profile: Evergreen Solar
          • Unique Manufacturer
          • Company History
          • String Ribbon Manufacturing Efficiency
          • No Profit Yet
          • Scrambling for Investment
          • EverQ
          • Silicon Contracts to Meet Billion-Dollar Commitments
          • New Plant Facilitated by Massachusetts
          • Utility Partnership
          • Speculation

    Chapter 5 Solar Market Trends

    • Competitive Trends
      • Globalization of U.S. Solar Market
      • Growing Foreign Presence
      • Homegrown Competitors Look Overseas
      • Horizontal and Vertical Integration
      • Commodity Production Now the Name of the Game

    • Investment Trends
      • VC Firms and Solar Investment
      • VC Trends in 2006
      • VC Trends in First-Half 2007
      • Table 5-1 Selected List of VC Investments in Solar Firms: 2006 and First-Half 2007
      • Table 5-1[Cont.] Selected List of VC Investments in Solar Firms: 2006 and First-Half 2007
      • Stock Market Trends
      • Table 5-2 Solar Companies Trading on Public Stock Markets: By Exchange and Stock Symbol, 2007
      • Solar Stocks

    • Financing Trends
      • Financing Is Fundamental
      • Emerging Financing Models
      • Focus: SunEdison
      • New Solar Financiers
      • Cautionary Note
      • Solar Loan Programs
      • Public Sector Financing

    • Technology Trends and Competitive Dynamics
      • PV Trends: Silicon
      • The Silicon Shortage Is Easing
      • Silicon Numbers by the Metric Ton
      • Leading Silicon Producers
      • European and Australian Silicon Startups
      • Chinese Silicon Startups
      • Silicon Shortage Coping Strategies
      • PV Trends: Thin Film
      • Recent Advances Lead to “Gold Rush”
      • TF Production Set to Soar
      • Asian Companies Embrace Hybrid TF Variations
      • Few Challengers in CdTe
      • CIGS Is Where the Action Is
      • Lower Chinese Prices
      • Thin Film Promise
      • Thin Film Problems
      • PV Trends: Emerging Alternatives
      • Hybrid Cells
      • Organic Cells
      • Color-Sensitive Cells
      • Quantum Dots
      • Holographic Cells
      • Breakthroughs in Efficiency
      • Metallurgical Silicon
      • PV Trends: Manufacturing Equipment
      • PV Trends: Miscellaneous
      • Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) Trends
      • CSP Back with a Vengeance
      • CSP Potential
      • Vinod Khosla and CSP
      • Scaled-Down CSP for Cities
      • Complex U.S. Developments
      • Focus: Ausra
      • Focus: Bright Source Energy
      • Focus: Solel Solar Systems
      • Concentrating Photovoltaics (CPV)
      • Solar Thermal Trends
      • Product Trends
      • Project Trends
      • Applications Trends

    • Government Trends
      • Federal Government Trends
      • The Solar America Initiative
      • Table 5-3 Solar Initiative America: Technology Pathway Partnerships (2007 Through 2009)
      • Table 5-3[Cont.] Solar Initiative America: Technology Pathway Partnerships (2007 Through 2009)
      • California Trends
      • Other State Trends
      • State Rebate Programs
      • Table 5-4 State Rebates for PV Installation: 2007
      • State Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS)

    Chapter 6 Solar Market Distribution

    • Distribution Structure
      • Overview: Theme and Variations
      • Distribution and Manufacturers
      • Distribution and Distributors Value-Added Resellers Value-Added Distributors Wholesale Distributors Table 6-1 Selected List of U.S Solar Distributors (2007) Distribution and Dealer/Installers Table 6-2 Selected List of U.S Solar Dealers/Installers by State Table 6-2[Cont.] Selected List of U.S Solar Dealers/Installers by State Distribution and Direct-Sales Retailers Distribution and the End-User System Designers Systems Integrators Table 6-3 Selected List of U.S. Solar Systems Integrators

      Appendix: Selected Addresses of Solar Marketers
      • PV Cell/Module Marketers
      • Solar Thermal Marketers
      • Balance-of-System/Other Solar Marketers

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