While the PV industry faces the effects of large cuts in feed-in tariffs across Europe, growth has continued in the United States with the total PV project pipeline exceeding 16.6 GW in 2011. Recently announced figures indicate that overall capacity is set to grow more than 50 times by 2016, with utility-scale developments currently found in 29 out of 50 U.S. states. Industry sources also maintain that the recent confirmation that the first 500 MW phase of the 1 GW Blythe solar thermal plant will now convert to PV, suggests that photovoltaics are a more attractive and stable option for developers and investors alike. However, despite this progress, the long-term sustainability of utility-scale projects are by no means guaranteed and costs will need to continue to decline if the industry has any hope of competing with cheaper, more established forms of energy production.
As 2011 draws to a close, the stabilization of module prices has led experts to predict that balance of systems will assume a majority share of a PV project’s total cost within a year. In 2010, BoS costs accounted for approximately 44.8% of utility-scale crystalline silicon project, with that percentage forecast to increase to 50.6% in 2012. This shift is driving the industry’s attention beyond the module towards achieving economic gains for key BoS components and services.
Further Information: PV Insider (www.pv-insider.com/optimizationjusa)
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