Solar energy firms booked a trade surplus in 2010

U.S. solar firms achieved a positive trade flow of $1.9 billion globally in 2010, according to a report from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and GTM Research.

The report, U.S. Solar Energy Trade Assessment 2011, said photovoltaic (PV) components accounted for more than 99 percent of the year’s exports, totaling more than $5.6 billion in 2010. PV polysilicon feedstock and capital equipment led all components at $2.5 billion and $1.4 billion, respectively. China and Germany purchased the most U.S.-sourced PV components.

U.S. imports of PV products totaled $3.7 billion, most of which ($2.4 billion) came from buying modules assembledoverseas. China and Mexico were the top two sources of PV goods imported to the U.S. in 2010.

The report said the U.S. was a net exporter of solar products to China last year by more than $240 million. The U.S. primarily sold capital equipment and PV polysilicon to China, while China primarily sold PV modules to the U.S.

According to the report, a significant portion of the domestic value generated by the PV industry is in site preparation, labor, permitting, financing and other so-called industry soft costs, which comprised nearly 50 percent of total solar revenue in 2010. The report also found $4.4 billion of domestic revenue accrued from U.S. solar installations that originated from both local and foreign firms employing U.S. resources on the ground for solar goods and services.

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