Photo by Solarworld USA.

From the Wall Street Journal:

The U.S. market for solar panels is likely to double in 2012, thanks to government policies and falling prices, although new tariffs on panels imported from China could contribute to slower growth in 2013, according to a new study.

U.S. developers are likely to install about 3,300 megawatts of solar panels this year, nearly double the amount installed in 2011, according to the study released Wednesday by the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research. …

Government subsidies, such as a federal tax credit equal to 30% of the cost of each system, and state and local incentives have been driving growing demand for solar. Better prices also have played a role.

Average solar-panel prices fell by about one-half over 2011, to about 94 cents a watt, the study found. That came on top of a roughly 27% drop in prices during 2010, said Shayle Kann, a vice president at GTM and an author of the study.

If the market grows as expected, the United States’ share of the global solar market would climb from 7 to 11 percent. This growth isn’t only good news for installers, retailers, and panel owners. Plenty of other related companies stand to benefit — like this one that auctions rooftop space to the highest bidder (profiled by David Roberts).

The full report is available at the Solar Energy Industries Association’s website.