First Solar Thin Film Leader and the largest solar company by value has decided to shift focus towards the commercial segment between 10-30 KW in size..The company was promoted by Wal-Mart promoters and has seen remarkable growth in the last few.This US based company uses Cadmium Tellurium (Cd-Te) Technology and is the lowest cost panel producer in the world today if you don’t include any penalty for low efficiency.Note First Solar derives most of its revenues from large utility solar power plants where the lower costs of its Cadmium Tellerium Solar Panels compensates for the Lower Efficiency of its Solar Panels.It does not get too many sales to the commercial and residential market where its lower efficiency panels lose out as they require much larger space to generate the same amount of power. First Solar Panels don’t sell well in applications where space is a constraint.Note Sunpower which is the highest efficiency commercial c-Si solar module producer wins out in applications with space constraint.

Solar Power Plants till a couple of years were quite small compared to the mainstream energy power plants.Most power plants were in the double digit range with no Solar Farms having the capacity of 100 MW or greater.This is in reference to PV Solar Power Plants and not to Solar Thermal Plants which are bigger in size.Note Solar Thermal Plants by the very nature of technology require larger sizes to be economical just like Thermal or Nuclear Power Plants.On the other hand PV Power Plants do not gain much in economies of scale and government prefer giving subsidies to distributed rooftop solar installations rather than large solar farms.

One of the major reasons for the Chinese success in the export markets in Asia and Africa have been the massive vendor financing done by state owned Chinese banks.Large orders have been won by Chinese companies like Dongfang Electric and Huawei as Chinese Banks financed the multi billion Indian orders by cheap loans.Note in large project finance cases cheap loans can make a huge difference in project returns and can be the clincher in choosing the equipment supplier.The US Exim Bank too seems to be pulling up its socks in helping American companies win large equipment orders through vendor financing.Note the US Exim Bank had got involved in a huge controversy when it agreed to finance a utlra mega power plant based on coal energy by Reliance Power in India.Despite protests by environmentalists,Exim Bank had gone ahead in financing as it would lead to jobs in America.Note USA is one of the biggest laggards in climate change and the government does not really care much out there.

The US is the world’s largest electricity producer and consumer with a total electricity capacity of around 1 Terawatt.The share of Solar Energy in the US Electricity Production is negligible compared to around 19% for Nuclear Energy and around 2-3% for Wind Energy.However Solar Energy in the US is set to grow at high double digits over the next 2 decades as the Costs of Solar Energy Decline with prices of other Energy Forms set to rise.In some states like Hawaii and California,solar energy prices are already at grid parity with retail electricity prices.Some states like New Jersey,Colorado,Arizona have seen sharp increases in solar energy adoption over the last 2-3 years boosted by state specific government policies and subsidies.With the US Federal 30% Cash Grant on System Costs and falling systems prices for solar systems,the growth in inevitable.The US Solar Market has seen the rise of a number of innovative and fast growing system integration and installers.Some companies have come up with innovative financial solutions to solve the high initial investment hurdles in solar systems through leasing and financing plans.Here are a list of Top US Installers/System Integrators.Note the list will keep expanding in the coming years as the size of the US Solar Energy Market Grows.

Solar Farms or Giant Solar Power Projects consisting of thousand of solar panels installed on acres of land are increasing rapidly in the USA.While the European governments are discouraging the use of large installations of solar panels,the US is going the opposite way in installing these power plants.The US government recently approved of a number of Solar Thermal Power Projects worth several gigawatt recently.

Note China’s Solar Market is a highly competitive and protected one with outside solar companies hardly having any presence similar to Japan’s market.First Solar which signed a massive gigawatt contract to build a plant in Ordos has seen only delays as Chinese solar manufacturers opposed the plant.First Solar is still trying to build the plant signing a new JV with one of China’s 5 big utilities.eSolar another CSP company got a contract to build a plant with China but till date construction does not seem to have begun there also.The Chinese government seems mostly interested in high-tech technology (First Solar,eSolar) rather than run of the mill players.Even these technology companies have failed to make much headway.Remains to be seen whether SkyFuel Succeeds.