SEIA: U.S. solar energy industry sets records for growth

Washington, D.C., June 16, 2011 The U.S. solar energy industry continued to be one of the fastest growing economic sectors in Q1 2011 according to the U.S. Solar Market Insight: Q1 2011 released by the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research.

Cumulative grid-connected solar electric installations exceeded 2.85 GW, enough to power nearly 600,000 homes.

In Q1 2011, 252 MW of grid-connected photovoltaics were installed, or 66 percent year-over-year growth over Q1 2010.

All PV market sectors (residential, commercial and utility) continued to grow, with commercial showing the strongest gains.

In Q1 2010, the top seven states comprised 82 percent of total installations, but grew to 88 percent in Q1 2011, implying an even larger share for established markets. Installations more than doubled in 11 of the 21 states analyzed.

Price declines were a growth factor, as technology costs fell and the industry matured further, capitalizing on greater economies of scale and streamlined project development and installation.

Domestic PV module production equaled 348 MW, a 31 percent increase over Q1 2010.

No concentrating solar power projects came online during Q1 2011, but 1.1 GW of CSP and concentrating photovoltaic projects are under construction. Concentrating solar continued its momentum with several projects receiving government loan guarantees.

Additional highlights:
* Cumulative grid-connected PV exceeded 2.3 GW.

* U.S. module production increased 17 percent relative to Q4 2010, from 297 MW to 348 MW.

* Wafer and cell prices dropped about 15 percent each; module prices fell around 7 percent.

* The 500-MW Blythe plant obtained a $2.1 billion DOE loan guarantee.

* Construction commenced on the 30-MW Alamosa CPV plant.

* The combined CSP and CPV pipeline exceeds 9 GW; more than 2.4 GW have signed power purchase agreements.

* Total U.S. solar market installation value grew 67 percent from $3.6 billion (2009) to $6.0 billion (2010).

* 2010 solar electric installations totaled 956 MW to reach a cumulative installed capacity of 2.6 GW, enough to power more than half a million households.

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