Saturday, May 19, 2012

Solar Prices Drop More, Pressuring Panel Makers

Solar panels prices have kept marching lower this year, extending steep declines seen in 2011 and keeping pressure on hard-hit manufacturers who have struggled to eke out profits, industry experts said.

Average selling prices for the photovoltaic modules that turn sunlight into electricity have dropped to 80 to 85 cents per watt, a decline of more than 10 percent from levels near 95 cents recorded at the end of 2011, a year that saw prices fall by about 50 percent.

Those price drops have helped boost solar sales and made solar power less dependent on subsidies to compete against fossil fuels. But they also have virtually erased profits at the major manufacturers, such as China's Suntech Power Holdings , Yingli Green Energy Holding, Trina Solar Ltd and U.S.-based First Solar.

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