US hit high of 3.77GW PV module shipments in 2011


The US Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration has released a report on annual PV module shipments in the US. Solar Photovoltaic Cell/Module Shipments Report 2011, states that US shipments reached a record high of 3.77GW, an increase of 43% since 2010. The report lists declining PV cell and module prices, along with an installation rush at the end of the year due to the conclusion of grant programmes amongst its reasons for the increase.

The average price of PV cells and modules has declined steadily over the past few years. In 2011, PV cell shipments averaged approximately US$1.7 billion, a decrease of 18% from US$1.13 to US$0.92 last year. PV modules on the other hand were worth US$6 billion, a decrease of 19% from USS1.96 in 2010 to US$1.59 in 2011.

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Manufacturing in the US has increased by 9% with California, Ohio, Oregon and Tennessee producing almost 75%. California’s rebate programme is currently under scrutiny from China. Alongside Washington, New Jersey, Massachusetts, the Chinese government is accusing the states of flouting World Trade Organization rules on subsidies and countervailing measures, in addition to the 1994 GATT Agreement.

Interestingly, last year, the US imported 51% of its total modules from China. This accounted for 3.3GWp of modules and 2.7GWp of crystalline silicon modules.

In March this year, the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM) released a report in which it claims that the solar industry trade surplus with China “disappeared between 2010 and 2011.” According to CASM, the US solar industry had nearly a US$1.6 billion trade deficit with China in 2011, after an estimated US$250 to US$540 million surplus in 2010. The report’s findings are based on data from the US Department of Commerce, the US International Trade Commission and a prior study by GTM Research.

The largest share of the US export market went to Germany with almost 19.8% of modules, followed by Canada (19.6%) and Italy (18.5%).

In terms of cell efficiency, crystalline silicon achieved 16%, thin-film 11% and CPV modules were 29%.


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