BOSTON and WASHINGTON - The U.S. solar energy industry continued its rapid growth through the second quarter of this year, gaining a greater share of the total global market according to GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)'s latest quarterly U.S. Solar Market Insight report.
Leading the way was the U.S. solar photovoltaics (PV) market, which installed 314 megawatts in the second quarter, 69 percent more than the same period last year and 17 percent more than the first quarter of 2011. The U.S. remains poised to install 1,750 megawatts of PV in 2011, double last year's total and enough to power 350,000 homes.
"The second quarter data illustrates that the U.S. solar industry continues to be one of the fastest growing in America," said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA. "More than 100,000 Americans are employed in solar, twice as many as in 2009. They work at more than 5,000 companies - the vast majority being small businesses - across all 50 states."
The utility and commercial market segments grew 37 percent and 22 percent respectively in the second quarter. The residential PV segment, however, stuttered for the second consecutive quarter, installing 60 megawatts, a 5.7 percent drop over last quarter. The U.S. Solar Market Insight report predicts greater traction for the residential market, however, in the second half of 2011 and into 2012, as residential solar-leasing business models expand nationwide.
In the concentrating solar market, including both concentrating solar power (CSP) and concentrating PV technologies, over 600 megawatts are now under construction in the U.S. The U.S. concentrating solar pipeline now holds more than 7,000 megawatts (enough to power 1.4 million homes), of which more than 4,000 megawatts of projects have signed power purchase agreements with utilities.
While U.S. solar is on track for a banner year overall, the market does face a number of potential challenges in 2012 and beyond that could stunt the type of growth seen over the past year and a half.
"The potential expiration of the 1603 Treasury program, along with current malaise in major markets such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania, threatens to slow growth in 2012," said Shayle Kann, Managing Director of Solar at GTM Research. "Still, with increasing market diversity and the continued emergence of the utility-scale solar market, we anticipate that the U.S. market share of global installations will triple over the next four years."
The overall solar story remains very positive. "The dynamic second quarter growth is a result of increased competition in the solar market, competition that drove down the price of solar panels by 30 percent since the beginning of 2010," added Resch. "This is good news for residential and business customers as solar becomes more affordable every day."
The U.S. Solar Market Insight: 2nd Quarter 2011 report is part of an annual subscription that provides the most relevant, solar-specific analysis to solar PV and concentrating solar (CSP and CPV) professionals each quarter. U.S. solar heating and cooling data is collected and reported annually in the Q4 report.
KEY FINDINGS FROM Q2 2011
- Grid-connected PV installations in Q2 2011 grew 69 percent over Q2 2010 and 17 percent over Q1 2011 to reach 314 megawatts (MW), enough electricity to power nearly 63,000 homes.
- Cumulative grid-connected PV in the U.S. has now reached 2.7 gigawatts, enough to power 540,000 homes.
- For the first time, New Jersey's commercial market exceeded California's, making it the largest commercial market in the country.
- Six states installed more than 10 MW each in Q2 2011 compared to only three states in all of 2007.
- A slowdown in global demand led U.S. module production to fall 11 percent in Q2 from Q1, to 333 MW.
- Weaker-than-expected global demand conditions also led to a price decline in Q2, with wafer and cell prices each dropping 25 percent and module prices falling 12 percent on the quarter.
Concentrating Solar (CSP & CPV):
- In August, it was announced that Phase I of the 484-MW Blythe trough plant would be switching from CSP to PV.
- Construction on the 30-MW Alamosa CPV plant began in the first half of 2011 with expected completion before the end of the year.
- There is a concentrating solar (combined CSP and CPV) pipeline of over 7 GW in the U.S., enough to power 1.4 million homes; more than 4 GW have signed power purchase agreements (PPA)
- In total, over 600 MW of CSP and CPV are now under construction in the U.S. that will produce enough electricity to power 120,000 homes.
ABOUT THE SOLAR MARKET INSIGHT REPORT
The U.S. Solar Market Insight: 2nd Quarter 2011 report is part of an annual subscription that provides the most relevant, solar-specific analysis to solar PV and concentrating solar (CSP and CPV) professionals each quarter. U.S. solar heating and cooling data is collected and reported annually in the Q4 report. SEIA members receive significantly discounted pricing.
Established in 1974, the Solar Energy Industries Association® is the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry. Through advocacy and education, SEIA® is working to build a strong solar industry to power America. As the voice of the industry, SEIA® works with its 1,000 member companies to make solar a mainstream and significant energy source by expanding markets, removing market barriers, strengthening the industry and educating the public on the benefits of solar energy.
ABOUT GREENTECH MEDIA AND GTM RESEARCH
Greentech Media delivers research and analysis in the business-to-business greentech market. Using an integrated platform, we produce high-quality products, whether it is industry news, market research or networking events. GTM Research, the research arm of the company, produces in-depth market reports and is the publisher of PV News, a monthly solar market tracker. Greentech Media is headquartered in Boston, MA, with operations in New York, NY, San Francisco, CA and Munich.