The U.S. solar industry installed a record number of panels in 2011, more than double 2010, and is likely to see strong growth again this year, according to a new report.
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Last year seemed like a dark one for the solar industry: stiff competition from China drove American manufacturers to layoffs and even bankruptcy, while the low price of natural gas and the loss of a critical government subsidy weakened incentives for new solar developments. And then there was the long shadow of Solyndra, whose bankruptcy after receiving federal loans cast a pall over other green-energy endeavors.
Colorado remained fifth in the nation for photovoltaic installations, as the number of megawatts installed jumped 69 percent to 91 megawatts in 2011 compared with 2010, according to a study released today.
The U.S. solar energy industry installed a record 1,855 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaic (PV) capacity in 2011, more than doubling the previous annual record of 887 MW set in 2010, according to the latest U.S. Solar Market Insight report. The record amount of solar installations is enough to power more than 370,000 homes, and represents a 109 percent growth rate in 2011.
System prices fell 20 percent because of cheaper components, more options for financing, better installation methods and the shift to larger arrays