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U.S. Solar Energy Industry Continues Record Setting Growth 2011

By Zachary Shahan

A new report published yesterday by the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) and GTM Research, U.S. Solar Market Insight: Q1 2011, indicates that the U.S. solar energy industry is continuing its record-setting growth. It is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the U.S. economy and is making noteworthy strides in both installed solar power capacity and solar manufacturing.

State solar installation leaders. Underlying data available in the full report. (click to enlarge)

Some of the key findings:

  1. 252 megawatts (MW) of grid-connected photovoltaics (PV) were added in the 1st quarter of 2011.
  2. That is a 66% growth over 1st quarter 2010 installations.
  3. Cumulative grid-connected solar electric installations grew to 2.85 gigawatts (GW) in the 1st quarter of 2011. To put that into useful perspective for most of us, that is enough power for ~600,000 U.S. homes.
  4. The 3 PV market sectors (residential, commercial, and utility) all grew, but commercial installations grew the most.
  5. Continually dropping solar equipment costs and a rush to take advantage of Section 1603 Treasury program incentives (previously anticipated to expire at the end of 2010 but now extended through the end of 2011) were the major factors spurring on rapid growth across the solar energy market.
  6. 7 of the 21 states analyzed accounted for 88% of solar energy growth (compared to 82% of growth in the 1st quarter of 2010), indicating the clear importance and superiority of certain state policies and programs. (See more on that in the chart above and the charts below.)
  7. 11 of the 21 states saw solar energy growth of over 50%. (See more on that in the chart above and the charts below.)
  8. PV module production in the U.S. grew to 348 MW, 31% more than for the same period of time last year.
  9. Manufacturing growth is seen to be due to the projection that the U.S. will become the world's largest solar market sometime within the next few years.
  10. While no concentrating solar power (CSP) projects have come online in 2011 yet, 1.1 GW of CSP and concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) projects are currently under construction, expected to make a big splash in installed solar power growth soon. As we've covered here on CleanTechnica, several of these utility-scale projects have received important government loan guarantees and other investments this year.

Status of solar market diversification in the U.S. (click to enlarge)

"California Solar Initiative NonResidential Reservations and Installations, 2009-Q1 2011" (click to enlarge)

State solar market leaders.

"On the whole, the U.S. is currently the PV industry's most attractive and stable growth market," said Shayle Kann, Managing Director of Solar at GTM Research. "This is reflected in our report's quarterly market data and in the comments from global suppliers, distributors, and developers, all of whom see the U.S. positioned to nearly double its global market share in 2011 and support a greater diversity of installation types than has been previously seen in any leading demand center."

See original news item: Cleantechnica.com, Jun-17-2011  
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