US Solar Market Records 140 Percent Growth In Q3

The U.S. solar energy market continues to go from strength to strength, achieving a record 140 percent growth rate in the third quarter of 2011.

New figures released by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) show that through to the third quarter of 2011, the USA solar sector installed more than 1,000 megawatts (MW) of solar capacity, already surpassing the 2010 annual total of 887 MW.

449 MW of solar capacity was installed in Q3 alone, a record number representing a 140 percent jump in growth and surpassing 2009’s total annual solar electric installations.

The third quarter spike has been attributed to the completion of several large-scale solar PV projects and the rapidly declining price of solar panels, due to massive oversupply on a global scale.

After Q1 results released earlier this year by GTM Research reported a 66 percent boost in solar installations across the USA, SEIA president Rhone Resch commented that solar has now become one of the nation’s dominant industries.

“The U.S. solar industry is on a roll, with unprecedented growth in 2011,” said Mr. Resch. “Solar is now an economic force in dozens of states, creating jobs across America.”

But GTM Research’s “U.S. Solar Market Insight: 3rd Quarter 2011” report also sounds a warning to the sector. The report states that unless the U.S. Treasury’s 1603 Loans Program – a scheme that provides financial guarantees for large-scale residential and utility solar power projects – scheduled to close at the end of the year, is extended, cash flow from third-party investors into solar projects could be stifled in 2012.

And while low-price solar panels are a boon for the domestic installation market, manufacturers of sola PV materials will continue to have a rough year in 2012, due to weakened demand from European buyers.

“In short, the U.S. PV market continues to boom, but considerable risks lie ahead,” – Executive Summary, U.S. Solar Market Insight; GTM Research.