U.S. Solar PV Installations Up 66% In Q1

In the first quarter of 2011, photovoltaic (PV) solar installations in the USA jumped by 66 percent over the same period last year and latest figures show America is poised to become the global market leader in large-scale concentrated solar energy.

According to the US Solar Market Insight: Q1 2011 report released by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and GTM Research, the solar industry continues to be America’s boom sector, with 252 megawatts (MW) of solar PV installed over the period. The US has now reached a cumulative total of 2.85 GW of grid-connected PV – enough solar energy derived electricity to power over 600,000 homes.

According to the report, falling costs in the field of solar technology and manufacture, along with a slowdown in major European markets due to cutbacks in renewable energy funding will contribute to an “exciting, if volatile” period of sustained growth for the US solar market.

“On the whole, the U.S. is currently the PV industry’s most attractive and stable growth market,” said Shayle Kann, Managing Director of Solar at GTM Research.

Large-scale installations, such as concentrated solar power (CSP) and concentrated photovoltaics (CPV), account for 9GW of solar energy in the US, with a total of 1,100 MW of combined CSP/CPV currently under construction.

Domestic demand for solar panels and related components such as solar inverters rose in 2011, increasing by 17% relative to Q4 2010.

US solar panel manufacturers increased production by 31 percent over Q1 2010 – a sign, says Tom Kimbis, SEIA Vice-President of Strategy and External Affairs, that America’s solar industry is on the rise.

“With analysts predicting the U.S. to become the world’s largest solar market within the next few years, manufacturers are increasingly looking to the U.S. to site their facilities. This strong demand continues to make solar one of the fastest growing industries in the United States.”