New ChangeWave Survey Shows Why 2008 is the Year of Solar Energy
No matter where you look, alternative energy is the topic du jour. To find out what's going on with solar energy and other non-traditional energy sources, ChangeWave surveyed 182 members of its expert research network that work directly in the alternative energy industry.
The ChangeWave network identifies emerging trends, technologies and companies best-positioned to capitalize in today's market.
The survey, conducted December 18-26, 2007, revealed that solar energy continues to show the most momentum of all alternative energy segments. Not only has the solar sector shown strong gains since the previous ChangeWave survey in February 2007, it also leads in each of the following areas:
- Most Rapid Economic Growth - Past 12 Months: When asked which alternative energy sector has experienced the fastest growth over the past year, solar energy (49%) topped the list -- up a whopping 14 percentage points since the previous February survey. In comparison, biomass -- including biofuels and bio-products -- came in at 41%.
- Most Rapid Economic Growth - Next 12-24 Months: Going forward, respondents see solar energy (58%; up 20-pts) as experiencing the most rapid growth in the industry for the next one-to-two years.
- Most Momentum - Next 5 Years: Over the long term, solar energy also retains its strength as 31% of respondents (up 5-pts) say it will be the top sector for the next half decade.
Solar energy is also seen as experiencing the biggest technology breakthroughs (27%; up 2-pts). But perhaps most importantly, solar cells are expected to be affordable enough to achieve a competitive return on investment within seven years.
"Demand for solar (photovoltaic) cells is unquestionably robust, the price of oil is trending higher, and solar tax credits will likely be extended," said ChangeWave
analyst Josh Levine. "The forces are all lining up exceptionally well for the solar industry. It's the right time for investors to be exposed to the sun and invest in solar stocks."
According to solar industry experts, the sector's growth is being propelled forward by global photovoltaics manufacturers like First Solar (FSLR), SunPower Corp. (SPWR), and SunTech Power Holdings (STP) -- companies that have developed superior business models and excelled in project management.
Levine adds that the next big challenge for the solar energy industry is the scaling of production facilities for mass production at the gigawatt level. "The next generation of leaders will be those companies that are best equipped to leverage the latest innovations in materials research through manufacturing know-how," he said.
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