ACHRNEWS

April 5, 2012: New Report Finds U.S. Solar Energy Installations Increased 109 Percent in 2011

April 5, 2012
WASHINGTON — 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 percent growth rate in 2011. It is the first time the U.S. solar market has topped one gigawatt (1,000 MW) in a single year. In the fourth quarter of 2011 alone, the industry installed 755 MW, up 115 percent from Q4 2010, for a second consecutive record-breaking quarter. GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA®) estimate the U.S. solar market’s total value surpassed $8.4 billion in 2011.

According to the report, this growth was spurred in part by declining installed solar photovoltaic (PV) system prices, which fell 20 percent last year on the back of lower component costs, improved installation efficiency, expanded financing options, and a shift toward larger systems nationwide. In addition, the anticipated expiration of the U.S. government’s 1603 Treasury Program, which ended Dec. 31, 2011, drove developers to commission projects before the end of the year.

The report also provides an update on the concentrating solar power (CSP) market. While no new concentrating solar thermal electric capacity was brought online in 2011, a total of 10 concentrating photovoltaic projects came online. The year also saw meaningful construction progress on a number of projects with some capacity expected to come online later in 2012 and a surge in 2013. Today, 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. Furthermore, the market continued to diversify nationally; eight states installed more than 50 megawatts of solar each last year, compared to just five in 2010. These are all indicators of a vibrant market.”

For an executive summary or a copy of the complete U.S. Solar Market Insight report, go to www.greentechmedia.com/research/solarinsight.

Publication date: 04/02/2012