While the U.S. solar industry continues to grow at a record-setting pace, the expiration of the Treasury Department’s 1603 programcould provide a major setback. According to a report released today by GTM Research and SEIA, the U.S. solar industry achieved a new record for installations and growth during the third quarter of 2011. These record numbers were achieved through utility-project completions, an increasingly strong residential market, effective government policies, and the plummeting price of solar panels.
Research from the U.S. Solar Market Insight found that with solar electric capacity reaching 449 megawatts in this quarter alone, the industry realized more than 140 percent growth over the same quarter last year. Bringing the total solar capacity installations to over 1,000 MW in 2011, the industry has already surpassed the 2010 annual total of 887 MW.
With the expiration of the 1603 program coming at the end of this year solar project developers are rushing to complete current projects and to start new ones to ensure they qualify for program incentives. Most likely, uncertainty of the 1603 program’s extension will negatively affect all industries involved in the supply chain of solar energy; posing a major threat to the future growth of these markets.
An extension of the Treasury Department’s 1603 grant program is an essential factor for the continued success of the solar industry and everyone, both directly and indirectly involved with it. It will help provide the industry with stability, allowing businesses and developers to make smart decisions that will continue to create jobs, stimulate the economy, and strengthen the power of solar.
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