The U.S. solar energy industry installed 252 MW of solar photovoltaic projects in the first quarter of 2011, according to a report released by the Solar Energy Industries Association. The report, “U.S. Solar Market Insight: Q1 2011,” was prepared by GTM Research.
Tom Kimbis, vice president of strategy and external affairs for SEIA, said the first quarter of 2011 was “the best quarter in the history of the solar industry in the United States.” This quarter was driven largely by the completion of projects started in 2010 in order to qualify for the federal Section 1603 Treasury program and market fundamentals that are driving down system costs. Another factor that drove market growth during the first quarter were market fundamentals that are driving down system costs.
The report said the total value of U.S. solar market installations grew 67 percent from $3.6 billion in 2009 to $6 billion in 2010. Solar electric installations in 2010 totaled 956 MW to reach an installed capacity of 2.6 GW.
Cumulative grid-connected photovoltaic (PV) installations now totals more than 2.3 GW, the report said. In 1Q 2011, the U.S. installed 252 MW of grid connected PV, a 66 percent increase over 1Q 2010.
The residential, non-residential and utility PV market sectors all continued to grow, with non-residential installations showing the strongest growth, the report said.
New Jersey had the strongest growth in 2010 and into 1Q 2011, installing 42 MW, or a 49 percent growth, over 1Q last year.
Technology costs in the first quarter fell and the industry capitalized on economies of scale and streamlined project development and installation, according to the report.
Manufacturing in the U.S. jumped 31 percent over 1Q last year. Total module production in 1Q 2011 amounted to 348 MW, a 17 percent growth over 4Q 2010.
No concentrating solar power (CSP) projects came online during 1Q 2011, but 1.1 GW of CSP and concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) projects are under construction. A pipeline of more than 9 GW of concentrating solar projects exists in the U.S., and more than 2.4 GW have signed power purchase agreements.
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