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US solar industry to grow in next 5 years

28th Nov 2011

The solar power industry in the US is projected to rise annually by more than 11 per cent, according to new predictions.

Industry researchers IBISworld have estimated that the US solar market will reach $145.9 million by the year 2016 - with the average annual growth to be reported at 11.4 per cent.

The predicted rise is contributed to rising demand and supportive government legislation, as well as an increase in the production of solar panels.

According to the research, prices will continue to fall as more solar options enter the market in the next five years, consequently driving up consumer and business investment.

US government initiatives have stimulated the industry over the past five years by providing tax credits for companies that invest in solar power, as well as enforcing renewable portfolio standards which require the participating states to generate a certain percentage of their total energy from renewable resources.

IBISworld predictions for growth after 2016 rely heavily on the government in power, with a change potentially slowing the success of solar.

The research highlights that major companies focusing on large scale solar projects have benefited from renewable energy legislation.

One such business named in the research is Spanish entity Abengoa Solar - the chief operating officer of which is set to speak to Australian audiences this week.

Scott Frier - chief executive of the solar firm - will be providing an international perspective on the future of solar energy in Australia when he attends the Solar 2011 Conference in Sydney.

Present in Australia since last year, Abengoa Solar is currently overseeing a 280 megawatt concentrating solar power (CSP) in California - the 16th of its kind built by the solar company.

Dubbed the Mojave Solar Project, it is expected to generate enough electricity to power approximately 54,000 households when it comes online in 2014.

Abengoa is currently building 1,010 megawatts of solar plants worldwide, with an additional 393 megawatt already in operation.

CEO of the Australian Solar Energy Society (AuSES) John Grimes said the investment in solar energy being made by companies such as Abengoa in utility-scale projects demonstrated the real potential of solar energy.

"The international experience of companies such as Abengoa offers a great insight into the potential for the future development of solar energy in Australia, including the creation of thousands of new jobs in the renewable energy sector," Mr Grimes said in a statement.

Posted by Mike Peacock - Solar correspondent

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