LONDON — As the market for solar panels heats up, some investors are betting they can profit from the trend, which could make the solar industry a more attractive investment for traditional businesses.
The solar panel industry is expected to grow at a rate of about 15% annually by 2020 and could generate a profit of more than $2 billion this year, according to forecasts from SolarWorld, the world’s largest solar panel manufacturer.
In fact, that’s more than double the amount of solar panel sales generated by the industry in 2010, according the industry’s largest player, Energizer Inc.
Energizer’s forecasts show the solar panel business is expected continue to grow.
The company expects to add about 3,500 jobs this year as the market heats up.
Solar panels, by contrast, have been slow to grow as a new generation of battery technology has made them more cost-effective.
The average panel size has dropped from nearly 6 inches (15 centimeters) in 2006 to 5.7 inches (14 centimeters) today, according with Energiser.
By 2020, the industry expects to see its average panel diameter increase to 7.8 inches (20 centimeters).
SolarCity, the nation’s largest residential solar panel installer, also expects to grow its solar panel manufacturing capacity by 20%, with a projected increase of between 10% and 20% annually.
The growth rate of solar panels is expected be as high as 20%, according with SolarCity.
SolarCity is also projecting that solar power sales in 2020 will exceed $1.5 trillion.
SolarWorld, which has been building out its global manufacturing base since the 1980s, has about 7,000 factories in more than 70 countries, employing roughly 2.2 million workers.
It’s the world leader in solar panels and equipment, with about 60% of its output coming from the U.S.
A growing number of companies are jumping into the solar market.
The most recent wave of investments has brought together companies such as SunPower Corp., which is acquiring solar panel maker NextEra Energy, and the Chinese-based solar panel makers Suntech and SunPower Enterprise.
The investment in solar is bringing the industry into closer contact with consumers, who increasingly want to make purchases in a timely fashion.
They are willing to spend less than traditional retailers for less power and more of their own money, which means there’s less of a need to spend a lot on expensive equipment.
Solar panels are now often shipped with their panels in the case of large orders, which saves on shipping costs and the installation process.
This makes the equipment more durable, according SolarWorld.
“The market is now much more competitive and much more efficient,” said Michael Pachter, SolarWorld’s CEO.
“If the industry was to grow this quickly, it could potentially become a major business for the industry.”
SolarCity has also been able to attract new companies into the market.
SolarCity invested $6 billion in China last year, bringing its total investment to more than half a trillion dollars.
The company expects China to overtake the U to become the second-largest solar market after the U