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Solar Power Demand Growth Forecast to Taper After Record 2010

Global demand for solar power cells will increase 25 percent next year after more than doubling to a record this year, according to industry publisher Solarbuzz.

Solar manufacturers will deliver 20,400 megawatts to customers next year, up from an estimated 16,300 megawatts this year, San Francisco-based Solarbuzz said today in a report.

Demand for solar energy has soared as governments seek to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and cut emissions of greenhouse gases by power plants. A rapid expansion of solar panel production, mostly in Asia, has helped to reduce the cost of solar power in the U.S. to an average of $3.47 per watt in this month, compared with $4.77 in December 2007, according to Solarbuzz surveys.

“The large price reductions of 2009 created the platform for spectacular growth,” Solarbuzz President Craig Stevens said in the report. “They will need to fall further than incentive tariffs in key world markets to maintain strong growth next year.”

Reductions in government incentives for solar energy in Germany and the Czech Republic were the main factors in estimating slower growth next year, Stevens said.

Chinese manufacturers including JA Solar Holdings Co., the top cell maker in the third quarter, produced 51 percent of solar deliveries in the third quarter, up from 47 percent a year earlier. China’s Suntech Power Holdings Co. was the second biggest and Tempe, Arizona-based First Solar Inc. was third. Total revenue from solar panel sales climbed 74 percent in the third quarter to $17.9 billion.

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