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U.S. Solar Energy Sees Record Growth

March 19, 2012
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The U.S. solar energy industry installed a record 1,855 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaic (PV) capacity in 2011, more than doubling the previous annual record of 887 MW set in 2010, according to the latest U.S. Solar Market Insight report. The record amount of solar installations is enough to power more than 370,000 homes and represents a 109% growth rate in 2011. It is reportedly the first time the U.S. solar market has topped 1 gigawatt (1,000 MW) in a single year. GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA®) estimate the U.S. solar market’s total value surpassed $8.4 billion in 2011.

This unprecedented growth was spurred in part by declining installed solar PV system prices, which fell 20% last year, and a shift toward larger systems. The Dec. 31, 2011, expiration of the U.S. government’s 1603 Treasury Program drove developers to commission projects before yearend.

Concentrating solar power projects are expected to come online later in 2012, with a surge in 2013. More than 1,000 MW of CSP are under construction, enough to power 200,000 homes.

As of year-end 2011, cumulative PV capacity in the U.S. reached nearly 4,000 MW and cumulative CSP capacity topped 500 MW. Together, this represents enough solar capacity to power nearly a million households.

“In 2011, the market demonstrated why the U.S. is becoming a center of attention for global solar,” said Shayle Kann, managing director of GTM Research’s solar practice. “It was the first year with meaningful volumes of large-scale PV installations; there were 28 individual PV projects over 10 megawatts in 2011, up from only two in 2009.”

“The solar industry is the fastest growing industry in America for the second year in a row. What we are seeing in the U.S. is that policies are working to open new markets and remove barriers for solar,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the SEIA. “But we face a number of challenges that have the potential to slow this growth.”

For more information, visit www.seia.org/cs/news_detail?pressrelease.id=2000.

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