EIA: U.S. Solar Power Manufacturing Declined in 2003
September 29, 2004
Despite a growing U.S. market for photovoltaic solar power, a drop in exports caused photovoltaic manufacturing in the United States to decline in 2003. According to a recent report from DOE's Energy Information Administration (EIA), the bankruptcy of AstroPower in 2003 contributed to the first decline in the U.S. production of solar cells and modules since the EIA began keeping track in 1986. The 2.5 percent decline from the previous year was the result of a 9 percent drop in exports, which outweighed a 7 percent increase in domestic shipments. Meanwhile, ABI Research reports that Japan has been leading the photovoltaic industry for years, but now the center of activity is shifting to the West—not to the United States, but to Germany, where strong subsidies are in place. See the EIA report, "Solar Thermal and Photovoltaic Manufacturing Activities 2003," and see the ABI Research press release.
Even the growing U.S. market sometimes fails to yield new production capacity within the United States: Japan's Kyocera Solar, Inc. plans to double its photovoltaic manufacturing output within the next year, and will open a new production plant on October 1st to serve the North American market. The company's new module assembly plant is meant to focus on the California market, but is located in Tijuana, Mexico. See the Kyocera press release.