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SunPower Gets Knocked Off its Pedestal in California

San Jose, California based SunPower lost its dominant position in the California solar panel market this year.  In 2008, SunPower enjoyed a 22% share of the solar panel market by selling almost 1 in every 4 solar panels installed.  This dropped to 16% in 2009 despite a major marketing campaign in the Los Angeles and San Francisco markets.  SunPower’s drop may be contributed by the high-cost manufacturing, which in turn means higher costs to local solar installers.

The solar market is becoming increasingly competitive in areas such as San Diego, California.  Over 140 companies claim that they install solar panels.  Since the solar industry is hot in a very cold economy, there will be many more electricians, roofers, and home remodelers entering.

Homeowners will be interested in saving money on their solar installations, so they may turn to lower cost solar panels that are manufactured in China, Mexico or India.  US based Evergreen Solar recently announced plans to move a manufacturing plant to China, while China based SunTech will be moving their assembly to the US.  Don’t get confused by Canadian Solar’s name, because they are a Chinese company as well.

2010 promises to be an exciting year for the solar industry.  The 30% Federal Tax Credit helps homeowners afford solar, while the California Solar Initiative rebate continues to decrease over time.  Competition among solar installation companies for lower solar panel prices will drive the industry.

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