(BN) U.S. Utilities to Double Solar Investment Annually (Update1)


U.S. Utilities to Double Solar Investment Annually (Update1)
2010-11-30 16:13:56.962 GMT

(Adds NRG investment in eighth paragraph, shares in last.)

By Ben Sills and Christopher Martin
Nov. 30 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. utilities may double
investments in solar power generation each year through 2015 as
states demand more renewable energy and equipment prices fall,
consultant GTM Research said.
Installations of so-called utility-scale solar projects
will reach about 3,000 megawatts annually, worth $8 billion, in
five years from 58 megawatts in 2009, GTM analyst Shayle Kahn
forecast in a report. Investments may be as much as 5,000
megawatts, worth $13 billion, should grants be extended or the
financial system recovers more quickly than expected, Kahn said.
Growth in the U.S. may help panel manufacturers offset the
drop that analysts expect in Europe as governments in Germany,
Spain, France and the Czech Republic reduce solar subsidies. The
European Union accounted for most of the global demand for
photovoltaic panels this year as installations in Germany
surged, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
"It is difficult not to be bullish about the U.S. utility
PV market," Kahn wrote in the report. "The market potential is
enormous, the economics have never made more sense, and the
first large projects have been coming on line with increasing
Solar-module prices this year are 50 percent lower than in
2008, making utility-size plants economically viable for the
first time, according to the report published by GTM, the market
research unit of Boston-based Greentech Media.

Iberdrola to SunPower

European operators such as Spain's Iberdrola SA and Phoenix
Solar AG of Germany have started developing industrial-size
solar plants in the U.S. to challenge U.S. panel makers First
Solar Inc. and SunPower Corp. that dominate the market, Kahn
said. Tempe, Arizona-based First Solar, the biggest developer,
has 2,347 megawatts of new capacity contracted, almost half of
all deals set for construction.
By the end of the forecast period, solar power will begin
to be competitive against fossil fuels in some states, preparing
the ground for further expansion, Kahn added. California will be
the biggest market with more than half of all new capacity,
followed by Arizona and New Jersey.
NRG Energy Inc., a power plant operator with almost 26,000
megawatts of capacity, today said its solar unit plans to invest
$450 million and would "assume all ownership and financing
responsibilities" for a 250-megawatt solar park that SunPower
plans to build in San Luis Obispo, California, starting next
SunPower last month won California regulatory approval to
sell output from the two High Plains Ranch projects to PG&E
Corp.'s Pacific Gas & Electric Co. utility for 25 years.
SunPower, based in San Jose, California, fell 11 cents, or
0.9 percent, to $11.84 as of 11:05 a.m. in Nasdaq Stock Market
composite trading. Princeton, New Jersey-based NRG slipped 5
cents to $19.50.

For Related News and Information:
Levelized cost of energy: LCOE <GO>
Top environment stories: GREEN <GO>
Global energy statistics: NRG <GO>

--Editors: Todd White, Randall Hackley.

To contact the reporters on this story:
Ben Sills in Madrid at +34-91-700-9603 or bsills@bloomberg.net
Christopher Martin in New York at +1-212-617-5198 or

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Reed Landberg at +44-20-7330-7862 or