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US Solar Market Grew 67% to US$6bn in 2010

The US solar market value grew 67% last year to US$6 billion despite the recession, according to a report from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and GMT Research.

By Renewable Energy Focus staff

According to the report, U.S. Solar Market Insight: Year-in-Review 2010, solar was the fastest growing energy sector contrasting overall US GDP growth of less than 3%.

2010 saw the installation of 878 MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity and 78 MW of concentrating solar power (CSP). Furthermore, over 65,000 homes and businesses installed solar water heating (SWH) or solar pool heating (SPH) systems.

The huge growth in the solar industry was driven by a combination of the Federal section 1603 Treasury program, the completion of utility-scale projects, the expansion of new state markets and declining technology costs. Solar PV costs fell 8% for residential and 11% for commercial properties.

Compared to four states in 2007, 2010 saw 16 states each installing over 10 MW of solar PV. The top then solar PV states in 2010 were: California, New Jersey, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Florida, North Caroline and Texas.

“The US PV market saw a breakthrough in 2010 and is emerging as a global demand center for both suppliers and project developers,” says Shayle Kann, Managing Director of Solar at GTM Research.

“The US Solar Market Insight: Year-in-Review 2010 examines the conditions that led to the past year’s growth and pinpoints future demand, industry trends and market challenges for 2011 and beyond.”

SEIA’s President and CEO, Rhone Resch, adds: “This remarkable growth puts the solar industry’s goal of powering 2 million homes annually by 2015 within reach. Achieving such amazing growth during the economic downturn shows that smart policies combined with American ingenuity adds up to a great return on investment for the public. The bottom line is that the solar energy industry is creating tens of thousands of new American jobs each year.”

Report Highlights:

All Solar Markets:
  • The total US solar market installations grew 67% to US$6bn; and
  • Installations totaled 956 MW, reaching a cumulative installed capacity of 2.6 GW.
Solar PV:
  • Grid-connected solar PV installations grew 102% to 878 MW, bringing cumulative installed solar PV capacity to almost 2.1 GW;
  • 16 states installed over 10 MW each, compared to four states in 2007;
  • Utility solar PV installations more than tripled to 242 MW; and
  • US manufacturing of solar PV components increased by 97% for wafers, 81% for cells and 62% for modules.
CSP:
  • The US’ largest CSP plant to come online in 20 years, the 75 MW Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center, FL, was completed in 2010;
  • Cumulative CSP capacity reached 507 MW from 17 operating plants; and
  • Federal Government approved permits for 7 CSP plants on public land totaling over 3.5 GW.
Solar Hot Water and Pool Heating:
  • 35,464 solar hot water systems and 29,540 solar pool heating systems were installed; and
  • California remained the leader of solar hot water systems as the overall market grew 5%.

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