Manufacturing costs for new solar technologies like thin-film and monocrystalline PV will drop below $1.50 a watt within the next few years, according to new projections by Greentech Media and the nonprofit Prometheus Institute. Global capacity will nearly triple, from 10.4 gigawatts today to 27.6 gigawatts, or approximately half the consumption of Great Britain.
But it's not all sunny news. Overall, the solar energy market is entering a big shakeout and consolidation phase. Despite an improvement in solar tax credits included in the Obama stimulus package, U.S. companies like OptiSolar, Ausra and Evergreen Solar are downsizing and cutting back. Anyone with shaky financing or bleeding edge technologies will disappear in favor of those that have the right connections to increasingly important government subsidies. Greentech especially likes the chances of cheaper thin-film and mass-market Asian manufacturers—the operative word here is cheap.