U.S. Solar Market Insight® is a quarterly publication of GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)®.
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Through the third quarter of 2011, the U.S. solar market installed more than 1 gigawatt (GW) of grid-connected photovoltaics (PV) on the year, far surpassing the 2010 annual total of 887 megawatts (MW). The third quarter of 2011 was also the largest quarter for installations ever seen in the U.S., supported by utility-scale project completions and rapidly declining prices for PV modules.
In 2010, the U.S. installed 887 megawatts (MW) of grid-connected PV, 104% growth over the 435 MW installed in 2009. Despite this, U.S. market share of global installations fell to 5.1%, down from 6.0% in 2009. Over the past six years, the U.S. has been growing at a relatively even pace with the global market; as a result, U.S. market share of global installations has consistently hovered between 5% and 7% since 2005. In 2011, however, this pattern is likely to end. A first-half slowdown in major European markets (most notably Italy and Germany) combined with continued strength in the U.S. has already led most PV manufacturers and developers to seek opportunities in the U.S. market with many in the industry expecting the it to be the largest market in the world within a few years.
The U.S. solar market is increasingly becoming a central focus of global industry attention, but state-by-state differences in regulations, incentives, utilities, and financing structures introduce more complexities in comparison to other markets. As a result, it has long been difficult to track and understand the changing market dynamics for solar energy in the U.S.
Despite the Great Recession of 2009, the U.S. solar energy industry grew— both in new installations and employment. Total U.S. solar electric capacity from photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP) technologies climbed past 2,000 MW, enough to serve more than 350,000 homes. Total U.S. solar thermal capacity approached 24,000 MWth.1
The U.S. solar energy industry grew to new heights in 2008 and many industry observers expect thatgrowth to continue in 2009. Total capacity grew by 1,265 megawatts (MW)1 in 2008, up from 1,159 MW installed in 2007.2 This brings the total installed capacity up by 16 percent to 9,183 MW. Capacity in both photovoltaic (PV) and solar water heating systems grew at record levels. And while no new concentrating solar power (CSP) plants were completed in 2008, projects totaling more than 6,000 MW are in the pipeline most with signed purchase power agreements. Solar pool heating capacity grew at a slower rate than in 2007, reflecting conditions in the residential real estate market.
In 2007, the U.S. solar energy industry saw a glimpse of a gigawatt future. There was signi?cant growth in the commercial and residential PV markets and a new utility-scale segment for PV emerged with the fastest growth of all segments representing over 15 percent of the annual U.S. installed PV capacity. The ?rst concentrating solar power plant was built in more than 15 years with dozens more utility-scale projects in the pipeline. The expansion of the solar water heating market continued. Thousands of U.S. jobs were created and billions of dollars were invested. And, the industry strengthened its presence in Washington and our united coalition support across the country.
U.S. Solar Market Insight™ is a collaboration between the Solar Energy Industries Association® (SEIA®) and GTM Research that brings high-quality, solar-specific analysis and forecasts to industry professionals in the form of quarterly and annual reports. Released December 11, 2012.
An In-depth analysis of the 2012 solar survey, including graphs and percentages that pertain to questions asked in the survey.
U.S. Solar Market InsightTM is a quarterly publication of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)® and GTM Research.