Given financing constraints in the U.S.--as well as the likely conversion of the Investment Tax Credit Cash Grant back to a tax credit for 2012--and uncertain subsidy outlooks in Europe, those same conglomerates are pushing growth in major, established solar markets as well.
In addition to retail giants Ikea and Wal-Mart adding rooftop arrays to already impressive commercial portfolios, Facebook and Apple have arrays planned at company headquarters and a data center, respectively. Outside the United States, IBM is building an array for one of its data centers in India. Highly power-dependent applications--like data centers-in unreliable power markets make solar particularly appealing.
From a solar market perspective, a few clear winners arise from this trend: commercial developers and domestic suppliers. While some systems will continue to use conventional crystalline silicon sourced from Tier-1 Chinese suppliers, Wal-Mart has sourced thin-film panels from Miasolé and First Solar to promote domestic suppliers. Similarly, SolarCity--which, in addition to its leading residential business, develops small commercial systems--and emerging commercial developers like Tioga Energy in the U.S. and incumbents like Wirsol in Europe stand to benefit from the potential for large engagements, as these same conglomerates build additional systems down the road.
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