WASHINGTON and AUSTIN, Texas - The U.S. solar industry reported strong growth in 2009, overcoming difficult economic conditions to post a 36 percent increase in revenues, which totaled $4 billion, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). The association released its 2009 annual report which indicates that overall U.S. solar electric capacity grew by 37 percent, doubling the size of the residential photovoltaic (PV) market and adding three new concentrating solar power (CSP) plants. Residential grid-tied PV installations showed the strongest growth, jumping from 78 megawatts (MW) to 156 MW. The industry group said state and federal policy support, along with reductions in technology costs, helped boost the industry, while creating 17,000 new jobs nationwide. SEIA said signs are pointing to a continued strong showing in 2010 for the U.S. solar industry.

According to SEIA, California’s 220 megawatts (MW) of new solar capacity led the United States in 2009, trailed by New Jersey at a distant second with 57 MW. Following New Jersery are Florida, Arizona , Colorado, Hawaii, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and North Carolina. In terms of new solar capacity per capita in 2009, Hawaii was the leader with 10.4 watts, while Nevada has the most cumulative solar electric capacity per capita, at 38 watts. Internationally, the United States ranked fourth in new solar electric capacity in 2009 with 481 MW, behind Germany’s 3,000 MW, Italy’s 700 MW, and Japan’s 484 MW.

The industry results were reflected in the results of U.S. thin-film solar module manufacturer First Solar Inc., which topped the rankings for PV module suppliers in 2009, shipping more than a gigawatt (GW) of modules. According to IMS Research, First Solar moved up from second to first place, overtaking Suntech Power Holdings Co. Overall, the top 10 firms increased their module shipments by 75 percent in 2009.

Publication date:06/07/2010