Friday, October 22, 2004

US Photovoltaic Cell Production Drops Dramatically in 2003 posted a quick note Wednesday on an interesting, but discouraging, piece of renewable energy business news. The authors of Worldchanging point to the Earth Policy Institute's report on 2003 sales of photovoltaic cells. According to the report, world-wide production of solar cells hit 742 megawatts in 2003, up more than 32% from 2002. Nearly half of solar cell production takes place in Japan, and European production has also grown dramatically. But, unfortunately, U.S. production slid - dropping 14% between 2002 and 2003. According to the report, the precipitous drop in US production levels was due to a number of events, including:
lowered production by BP Solar, the repurchasing of solar cells by Shell Solar, and the bankruptcy of Astropower—the second largest producer of solar cells in the United States. Furthermore, the Million Solar Roof Initiative—a national program designed to support states and local communities as they develop solar energy technologies—that was launched in 1997 by President Clinton lacks a dedicated budget, which has stymied progress. As a result, the 89 regional partnerships in this initiative reported that by the end of 2003 there were only 229,000 residential solar roofs throughout the country.
Yet more sobering evidence that the U.S. is continuing to lose momentum in this area of the rapidly developing renewable energy field.

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