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Annual Solar Energy Report Demonstrates Record Growth of U.S. Market After Two Years with Investment Tax Credits

Growth of U.S. solar market spurred by federal tax incentives set to expire in December.

WASHINGTON, DC – Today the Solar Energy Industries Association released its 2007 U.S. Solar Industry Year in Review produced in conjunction with the Prometheus Institute. The report noted that 254 megawatts of photovoltaic and concentrating solar power were installed in 2007. This included 150 MW of grid-tied PV, 40 MW off-grid, and 64 MW of CSP. Another estimated 1,000 megawatts (thermal) were installed as solar hot-water and space heating (100 MW-thermal) and pool heating (900 MW-thermal).

Concentrating solar power increased 18 percent to a total of 419 MW when Nevada Solar One came online last June - the first utility-scale CSP plant placed in service since the last Mohave Desert plant was completed in 1991. Contracted and announced CSP projects in the pipeline now total 4 gigawatts, including the world’s largest, the 280-megawatt CSP to be built by Abengoa for Arizona Public Service. Four gigawatts of solar energy would power 1 million households.

Grid-tied PV increased 45 percent to a total of 750 MW, led primarily by large commercial big-box retailers that placed solar on the roofs of their buidings, including Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Safeway, Home Depot and Costco. Also, the largest utility-scale PV system (14 MW) was installed at Nellis Air Force base in Nev. and another 8 MW system was installed for Xcel Energy in Col.

States that led in solar PV installation were: Calif. (87.1 MW); N.J. (16.4 MW); Nev. (14.6); Col. (12.4 MW); and N.Y. (4.4 MW). Eight states expanded incentives or requirements for solar energy including N.J., Fla., Md., N.Y. and Nev. To date 42 states have net metering rules allowing owners of solar energy systems to sell excess electricity back to the grid, however the program standards vary widely.

The reports highlights growth of the U.S. Solar Energy Market:

- U.S. Installed grid-tied PV grew 45 percent in 2007 from 2006 (See page 1, 4)

- U.S. Installed grid-tied PV increased by 12,714 installations in 2007, more than 2 times the 5,813 installations in 2005 (See page 4)

- Big-box retail stores led the PV installation boom including Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Home Depot and others.

- U.S. market is fourth in world (after Germany - 1st, Japan - 2nd, Spain - 3rd); Germany installs 8 times as much as the U.S. (See page 3)

- States that expanded their solar energy incentive programs in 2007 were N.J., Fla., Md., N.Y., Nev., N.C., Wash., N.M. (See page 3)

- Top states for 2007 installed grid-tied PV: Calif. (87.1 MW); N.J. (16.4 MW); Nev. (14.6); Col. (12.4 MW); N.Y. (4.4 MW) See page 5.

- 4 GW (4,000 MW) of utility-scale CSP plants are in the pipeline (See p. 6)

- U.S. PV manufacturing increased 74 percent, led by thin-film production (See page 1, 5)

"As the country celebrates Earth Day and Congress evaluates different paths to secure and clean energy supplies, it is worth noting that with modest, temporary policy we can see such tremendous growth in such a short time," said Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association. "In two years, solar energy has proven to be an economic engine for this country, creating thousands of green-collar jobs, unleashing billions in investment dollars, and building manufacturing from Ohio to Michigan to Oregon. Today, Congress has a chance to move our nation to a clean energy future while at the same time expanding our economy."

Federal investment tax credits for installing both residential and commercial solar energy systems expire Dec. 31. Several bills in Congress include extensions and, in some cases, improvements to the tax credits: Feb. 27 House-passed bill H.R. 5351, Apr. 10 Senate-passed H.R. 3221 with the Cantwell-Ensign amendment (S.A. 4419), and a Senate proposed 2008 tax extenders bill reported out of the Senate Finance Committee on Apr. 17.

Solar Energy Industries Association is the national trade association of solar energy manufacturers, dealers, distributors, contractors, installers, architects, consultants and marketers. Established in 1974, SEIA works to expand the use of solar technologies in the global marketplace, strengthen research and development, remove market barriers, and improve education and outreach for solar.

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