Commercial Sector Drives U.S. Solar Market with 38 Percent Growth in Third Quarter

SEIA® and GTM Research release the U.S. Solar Market InsightTM: 3rd Quarter 2010 report, a quarterly industry research report with comprehensive strategic analysis of U.S. solar markets.

Solar energy markets in the U.S. continued to surge during the third quarter of 2010, according to a report released today by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA®) and GTM Research. More than 27,000 U.S. homes and businesses installed solar energy systems in the third quarter of 2010. Installations in the non-residential photovoltaic (PV) sector grew 38 percent over the second quarter to reach 103 megawatts (MW).

Alongside support from state and federal policies, nationwide growth is being propelled across residential, commercial and utility-scale market segments by the continued decline of average system costs, which the report finds were below $6/watt in Q3 for the first time, or 8.5 percent less than Q1 averages.

The report also includes detailed data and analysis on national and leading state trends, including demand, average system costs, component costs, and manufacturing production, which culminate in five-year demand projections by technology and by state.

“The third quarter, and this year as a whole, has been a banner year for PV in the U.S.,” said Shayle Kann, GTM Research’s Managing Director of Solar. “With the combination of ARRA incentives, the Treasury Cash Grant, and a compelling cost environment, PV installations have spiked across all market segments.”

In third quarter solar electric installations, California led the way with over 67 MW of new capacity, followed by New Jersey, Florida, Arizona and Colorado. For solar heating and cooling systems, California, Hawaii, Arizona, Puerto Rico, and Florida were the leading markets.

As of the end of the third quarter, the U.S. had installed 530 MW of PV, already well over the 435 MW installed in all of 2009. GTM Research forecasts further growth in the fourth quarter, with total 2010 PV installations poised to reach 855 MW. Concentrating solar power installations and solar heating and cooling installations in the last quarter of the year could drive total 2010 U.S. solar installations above 1 gigawatt – 1,000 MW – for the first time.

“This report for the third quarter shows what many of us already suspected; that 2010 will be a historic year for solar energy in the United States. Thanks to a variety of factors, including the 1603 program, the solar industry is on pace to grow by over 100 percent and install more than 1 gigawatt of solar in 2010. This is the first time we have crossed this threshold,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA.

“And the promise for 2011 is even greater. With the 1603 program on the cusp of being extended, combined with the continuing decline in system costs for consumers, solar is poised to create tens of thousands of jobs and install even more capacity than 2010. It is truly an exciting time for our industry.”

This latest U.S. Solar Market Insight™ report forecasts the industry to continue its growth in 2011, although extension of the successful 1603 Treasury Grant Program would ease market pressure and provide the certainty for another major growth year in 2011.

The quarterly SEIA/GTM Research U.S. Solar Market Insight™ report is a complete account of trends in the U.S. photovoltaic (PV), concentrating solar power (CSP), and solar heating and cooling (SHC) markets. Each quarter, SEIA and GTM Research provide the most valuable current information on the U.S. solar market.

U.S. Solar Market Insight details trends nationally and in the top 20 state markets, including demand, average system costs, component costs, and manufacturing production. All of this data culminates in five-year demand projections by technology, by market segment and by state.

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.