Solar Industry Snapshot: A Record Third Quarter

Shares of First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ:FSLR) jumped over 3.2 percent on Tuesday, adding to six-month gains of over 140 percent. Buoying the company’s soaring share price is a long list of major projects backed by strong industry tailwinds that suggest the solar sector could be making up some lost ground.

What Does the Solar-Industry Snapshot Look Like?

A few months ago, pretty much the only news coming out of the solar industry were sordid tales of over-capacity, price collapses, legal jousting, and business closures. But a new report from the Solar Energy Industries Association indicates that while it’s not quite the miracle-solution to all of the world’s energy problems, solar made fantastic progress in the third quarter.

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The report points out that the U.S. market installed 684 megawatts in the third-quarter of 2012, a 44 percent year-over-year increase and the third-largest on record. Third-quarter installations alone could provide enough electricity to power 113,000 average U.S. households. About 1,992 MW were installed in the first three quarters of the year, already greater than the total for 2011.

Residential installations grew 12 percent quarter over quarter, while commercial installations grew 24 percent for the same period. To round it all off, solar costs have fallen over 30 percent in the past two years — partly because of efficiencies and partly because of over-capacity…

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