Yingli says U.S. solar market has improved dramatically

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Yingli Green Energy Holding’s fledgling U.S. business has announced that the U.S. market for solar power has improved dramatically in the last six weeks, according to Reuters.

Robert Petrina, managing director of Yingli Green Energy Americas, said that the biggest change has been in the market for commercial solar projects; residential sales of solar panels, he said, have remained “rather robust” throughout the economic downturn.

However, the tax equity market, under which banks funded solar power developments in exchange for renewable energy tax credits, has yet to recover.

Solar panel makers have suffered this year from a decrease in demand due to a lack of available financing for projects and a retraction in government solar subsidies in Spain and Germany. That drop in demand has in turn lead to an oversupply of solar panels that has sent panel prices, and their manufacturers’ profits, plummeting.

Yingli is partnering with U.S. solar project developers including San Francisco-based Recurrent Energy and AES Solar, a joint venture between power producer AES Corp and private equity firm Riverstone Holdings. The company will compete for U.S. utility projects against First Solar, SunPower and Chinese rival Suntech.

“We like to have market share in the U.S. congruent to market share in Europe. We’re using that as a goal,” Petrina said. Published reports have put Yingli’s European market share somewhere between 6% and 8%.

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