US solar module shipments jumped to record 28.8GW last year, EIA says

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The 73MW Luciana solar plant in California. Image: Idemitsu Renewables.

US shipments of PV modules reached a new high last year amid continued demand for new solar capacity.

That is according to the country’s Energy Information Administration (EIA), which revealed that 2021 module shipments increased 32% year-on-year to a record generating capacity of 28.8GW.

Shipments include imports, exports and domestically produced and shipped panels, the EIA said. About 80% of the module shipments last year were imports, mainly from Asia.

The figures reveal that 49% of the module import shipments were from China, Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam; 22% were from South Korea, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates; 14% from Malaysia; and 15% from other countries.

Image: EIA.

Meanwhile, the EIA said that despite higher material costs last year, the average value of US solar module shipments was US$0.34/kWp, 11% lower than in 2020.

In terms of the destinations for modules, five states accounted for 46% of all shipments last year: California, Texas, Florida, Georgia and Illinois.

According to the EIA’s Annual Electric Generator Report, the US added a record 13.2GW of utility-scale solar capacity in 2021 – a 25% increase on 2020 – despite project delays, supply chain constraints and volatile pricing.

Small-scale solar capacity deployment in the country reached 5.4GW in 2021, up 23% from 2020, most of which was installed on homes.

However, US solar installs fell earlier this year as module imports dropped as a result of the Department of Commerce’s investigation into alleged circumvention anti-dumping and countervailing duties by entities in Southeast Asia.

President Joe Biden has since declared a two-year freeze on new tariffs on solar imports from Southeast Asia.

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