For the second year in a row, and the third in the past four years, the U.S. doubled its solar power installations in 2011, according a new report issued by the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research.
The SEIA's "Year-in-Review" report suggests that the U.S. added 1,855 megawatts of the solar capacity in 2011, a 109 percent increase from the 887 megawatts installed in 2010. The new additions make the U.S. one of a select group to add more than 1 gigawatt in a single year and bring the country up to 3,954 megawatts of total capacity.
More than 40 percent of those additions came in the last quarter of the year, with 776.2 megawatts of new capacity installed in the last three months, in part as companies sought to beat the expiration of the 1602 grant program, which converted tax rebates into up-front cash for solar projects.
"We went from an industry that was installing megawatts a year to an industry that’s installing gigawatts," Rhone Resch, president and chief executive officer of the SEIA, told The New York Times. "If we can attract the investment, the opportunity to grow is really limitless simply because demand for energy, and clean energy, is just so great."