Solar installations in U.S. double to 878MW in 2010: doubling again this year

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According to the latest report from SEIA and GTM Research, photovoltaic installations in the U.S. reached 878MW in 2010, more than double those from the previous year. The total market value of installations increased 67% from US$3.6 billion in 2009 to US$6.0 billion in 2010, according to the report, entitled ‘U.S. Solar Market Insight: Year-in-Review 2010.’

“The U.S. PV market saw a breakthrough in 2010 and is emerging as a global demand center for both suppliers and project developers,” noted Shayle Kann, managing director of Solar at GTM Research.

“This report shows that solar energy is now one of the fastest growing industries in the United States, creating new opportunities for both large and small businesses. Every day, Americans across the country are going to work at well-paying, stable jobs at solar companies, from small installers all the way up to Fortune 500 companies,” commented Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO.

“This remarkable growth puts the solar industry's goal of powering 2 million homes annually by 2015 within reach. Achieving such amazing growth during the economic downturn shows that smart polices combined with American ingenuity adds up to a great return on investment for the public. The bottom line is that the solar energy industry is creating tens of thousands of new American jobs each year.”

The report noted that the significant growth in PV installations was driven by government policies, in particular the Federal section 1603 Treasury program.

Utility-scale projects

Throughout the year, utility-scale projects were a key factor in the growth coupled to the expansion of new state markets and declining technology costs, despite the complexities of state-by-state regulation differences as well as different incentives, large number of utilities, and financing structures to enable utility-scale projects to be built.

Utility-based PV installations more than tripled in 2010 to reach 242MW, up from 70 MW in 2009, according to the report.

In 2011, the report noted that over 700MW of utility PV had already been contracted with expected 2011 completion dates.

In total, 52,600 PV systems were connected in 2010, bringing the cumulative number of grid-connected PV systems in the U.S. to 152,516.

State by state

The report also noted that cumulative installed PV capacity in the U.S. had now reached 2.1GW. Sixteen different states had installed more than 10MW of PV in 2010, up from only four states in 2007.

Major installations were seen in five states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada and New Jersey), which all installed over 50MW each.

The state of New Jersey was picked out for becoming the second state to install over 100MW in a single year. This meant that California’s market share fell to less than 30% in 2010. In 2004-2005, California comprised around 80% of the U.S. PV market, the report noted.

Domestic production

Despite growing competition from overseas PV manufacturers, the report said that U.S.-based PV components increased by 97%, cell production by 81% and module production by 62%.

Global comparisons

Ironically, due to the significant growth of PV installations on a global basis, the U.S. market share actually declined, despite installations doubling. The report projected that global installations had topped 17GW in 2010, which meant the U.S. share fell from 6.5% in 2009 to 5%.

However, this year, the U.S. is expected to gain share as installations in the country are projected to double again, while the global market slows down.
 

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