Report: U.S. 2011 solar installations top 2010 numbers by 109%

The U.S. solar energy industry installed a record 1,855 MW of photovoltaic (PV) capacity in 2011, more than doubling the previous annual record of 887 MW set in 2010, according to a U.S. Solar Market Insight report. The solar installations represent a 109 percent growth rate in 2011 and marks the first time the U.S. solar market has topped 1 GW in a single year.

In the fourth quarter of 2011 alone, the industry installed 755 MW, up 115 percent from Q4 2010. GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) estimate the U.S. solar market’s total value surpassed $8.4 billion in 2011.

This growth was spurred in part by declining installed solar PV system prices, which fell 20 percent last year. In addition, the anticipated expiration of the U.S. government's 1603 Treasury Program, which ended Dec. 31, 2011, drove developers to commission projects before the end of the year.

The report also provides an update on the concentrating solar power (CSP) market. While no new concentrating solar thermal electric capacity was brought online in 2011, a total of 10 concentrating PV projects came online. The year also saw construction progress on a number of projects, with some capacity expected to come online later in 2012 and 2013. Today, more than 1,000 MW of CSP are under construction.

California leads the U.S. in installed solar capacity with 542 MW in 2011, followed by New Jersey with 313 MW and Arizona with 273 MW.

As of year-end 2011, cumulative PV capacity in the U.S. reached nearly 4,000 MW and cumulative CSP capacity topped 500 MW.

According to U.S. Solar Market Insight, 2012 will be another strong year for the PV industry, with installations of more than 2,800 MW forecasted. Beyond 2012, the report forecasts installations to continue at a compound annual growth rate of 30 percent through 2016.

The report is available for download here.

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