Photovoltaic solar installations in the U.S. increased by 109% in 2011, with total value estimates in the $8.4 billion range, according to the latest U.S. Solar Market Insight report.
| Top 10 States: PV Capacity Installed by Market Segment, 2011|
The report, issued by Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA®) and GTM Research, said that 1,855 megawatts were installed in 2011, up from 887 megawatts a year earlier.
And the increase marks the “first time the U.S. solar market has topped one gigawatt (1,000 MW) in a single year,” the report said.
“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 SEIA.
According to the analysis, 2012 is expected to be another strong year for the PV industry, with installations of more than 2,800 megawatts forecast. Beyond 2012, the report forecasts a compound annual growth rate of 30% through 2016.
The reported “unprecedented growth” was stimulated in part by declining installed solar photovoltaic system prices, which fell 20% last year on the back of lower component costs, improved installation efficiency, expanded financing options, and a shift toward larger systems nationwide, SEIA said.
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 said.
“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.
Concentrated Solar Power Market
The report also provided 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 report said.
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. Currently, more than 1,000 MW of CSP are under construction, enough to power 200,000 homes, the report says.
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, the report said.
Sector and State Findings
The report found 800 MW were installed in the commercial sector in 2011, led by the California and New Jersey markets, compared to 758 MW of utility PV and 297 MW of residential installations.
Utility-scale project installations, primarily across states in the southwest, nearly tripled from 2010 totals, according to the report.
In the residential sector, California installed 114 MW, with New Jersey, Arizona, Hawaii, Pennsylvania, and Colorado each contributing meaningfully to the residential total.
A separate report on 2011 growth of U.S. solar heating and cooling technology is expected by midyear.
2011 Q4 U.S. Solar Market Insight key Report Findings
• PV installations grew 109 % in 2011 to reach 1,855 MW, which represents 7% of all PV globally, up from 887 MW and 5% of global installations in 2010.
• Cumulative PV capacity operating in the U.S. now stands at 3,954 MW.
• There were 28 individual PV projects of more than 10 MW completed in 2011, up from only two in 2009.
• Eight states installed more than 50 MW each in 2011.
• Installation totals in 2011 increased in 18 of the 23 states covered in detail.
• Weighted average PV system prices fell 20% in 2011 as a combined result of lower component prices, improved installation efficiency and a shift toward larger systems.
• There were more than 61,000 individual PV systems installed in the U.S. in 2011, bringing the total number of operating systems in the U.S. to more than 214,000.
More information or to purchase the report: Solar Market Insight Report.