Strong U.S. Solar Industry Growth

The Solar Energy Industries Association® (SEIA®) and GTM Research released the inaugural U.S. Solar Market Insight™ report with data for the first half of 2010 showing significant growth in the U.S. solar industry despite the continuing struggles of the overall economy.

In 2010, the U.S. solar electric market, including both photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP) installations, could achieve a major milestone by surpassing one gigawatt of installed capacity in a year for the first time – enough to power 200,000 homes.

The report’s baseline forecast projects that 944 megawatts of solar electric capacity (composed of 866 MW of PV and 79 MW of concentrating solar power ) will be installed in the U.S. in 2010. This represents a growth of 114 percent over the 441 megawatts of solar electric capacity added in 2009. The report’s high forecast projects as much as 1.13 gigawatts being installed by year’s end, a 156 percent increase over 2009.

California led states for solar electric capacity installed in the first six months of 2010 with 12 megawatts, followed by New Jersey, Arizona and Florida. In total, 341 megawatts were installed in the first half of the year. The report projects a stronger second half for 2010 because of one large CSP project, a number of large PV projects and continued strength in the residential and non-residential markets.

The solar heating and cooling market also grew. The solar water heating (SWH) segment will have a sixth consecutive year of growth in 2010, growing 16 percent with approximately 3 million square feet (mmsf) of installed solar thermal collectors expected by year-end compared to about 2.6 mmsf in 2009. The projected 3 mmsf of collectors would provide hot water for nearly 50,000 homes, businesses and other facilities across the U.S. Hawaii installed the most square feet of solar water heaters, followed by Puerto Rico and California. The solar pool heating segment is expected to grow by 7 percent in 2010, installing approximately 11.5 million square feet.

U.S. Solar Market Insight™ also projects market demand through 2015. The study’s more aggressive projections forecast that annual U.S. solar electric installations will approach SEIA’s® industry goal of installing 10 gigawatts per year by 2015, enough to power 2 million new homes annually, while its baseline forecasts fall short of that figure.

"Our U.S. Solar Market Insight™ reports will give solar companies invaluable data that will help this industry achieve its goal of installing enough solar to power two million homes every year by 2015," said Rhone Resch, SEIA® president and CEO. "Detailed, regular updates are critical for a young but growing industry such as solar. For the first time, companies will have access to reliable data to plan for stable growth, cost reductions, and opportunities in new markets. Solar businesses armed with this data will have a distinct competitive edge in this increasingly competitive industry."

"First half solar installations grew beyond expectations as a result of declining prices, continued government support and improving financial conditions," said Shayle Kann, Managing Director, Solar at GTM Research. "In spite of continued macroeconomic woes, the U.S. solar industry is on track to have a record year in 2010 for both installations and manufacturing."

"Our partnership with GTM Research comes at the right time to provide a trusted resource on the size and growth of the fast-growing U.S. solar marketplace," said Tom Kimbis, Director of Policy and Research at SEIA®. "U.S. Solar Market Insight™ combines previously unavailable industry data with a top-notch analysis team to deliver critical information our industry and the public need."

U.S. Solar Market Insight™ is a significant new tool for understanding the solar industry as it provides industry data, forecasts and analysis for PV, CSP, and SWH technologies, for all market segments – residential, commercial property and utility-scale – at both national and state levels.

The release of this report highlights a new partnership between SEIA® and GTM Research to provide U.S. solar industry data on a quarterly basis. In addition to this quarterly data, the U.S. Solar Market Insight™ series will also include the information SEIA® traditionally issued each spring in its U.S. Solar Year in Review.™

Established in 1974, the Solar Energy Industries Association® is the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry. Through advocacy and education, SEIA is working to build a strong solar industry to power America. As the voice of the industry, SEIA works with its 1,000 member companies to make solar a mainstream and significant energy source by expanding markets, removing market barriers, strengthening the industry and educating the public on the benefits of solar energy.