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Solar Power News In Links: 2021

High impact solar power news and updates from 2021

2021 was a tumultuous year in many respects and the solar industry was impacted both negatively and positively by the ongoing crisis of the pandemic. As with any other industry, the supply chain and rising costs caused conflicting projections for growth but did not halt it. We’ve included some of the largest news from 2021.

Breathtaking Growth for Solar Despite Challenges

The S&P Global Market Intelligence projected that U.S. solar industry brought online 23 GW in 2021 and that number is expected to nearly double in 2022 to 44 GW.

Installed wind, solar, battery 2016 to 2023

Supply-Chain Issues Impeding Solar Growth for 2022

This was one of the biggest stories across every industry and the solar industry was no exception. In contrast to S&P, SEIA and Wood Mackenzie have softened growth forecasts for 2022 and now project that the U.S. solar industry will grow 25% less than previously forecasted because of the supply chain issues and rising prices.

Commodity Prices Hit the Solar Industry but Still the Most Inexpensive

Prices for solar system hardware rose at the end of 2021, pushed up by price increases by the commodity materials used to make solar modules and trackers, including steel, polysilicon, copper, silver, and aluminum. Polysilicon price increases hit particularly hard, rising from a low of $6.30/kg in 2020 to $37/kg at the end of 2021.

Solar is still the most inexpensive source of energy in many places according to the IEA.

Solar Tariffs to Be, Or Not to Be

Bifacial solar panels were once again exempted from tariffs upon a ruling by the U.S. Court of International Trade back in November 2021. Yet, tariffs on other solar hardware remains a contentious issue with some sides seeing it as protective of the U.S. manufacturing sector and others seeing it as ineffective and even harmful to renewables. For a complete breakdown, read the article on Solar Power World.

Build Back Better Maybe: Solar Holding its Breath

The legislation would mean a boost to the solar industry with $555 billion earmarked for renewables and clean transportation incentives. When Manchin withdrew support, he argued that the cost of the program is prohibitive and that clean energy transition is already underway.

While solar and other renewables are growing, many argue they are not growing fast enough. With wildfires in Colorado in December, the cost of climate change is already here. Read the full analysis in the NPR article.