No concentrating solar power (CSP) plants were commissioned in the U.S. in 2011, however GTM and SEIA note that several very large CSP plants are currently under construction and are expected to come online in the next few years. The companies estimate that with the new 2011 installations, the U.S. has reached 3.95 GW of installed photovoltaic. The companies predict that in 2012, the U.S. will install more than 2.8 GW of PV, followed by an annual market growth rate of 30% through 2016.
“It was the first year with meaningful volumes of large-scale PV installations; there were 28 individual PV projects over 10 megawatts in 2011, up from only two in 2009.”
This unprecedented growth was spurred in part by declining installed solar photovoltaic (PV) system prices, which fell 20 percent last year and a shift toward larger systems. The Dec. 31 expiration of the U.S. government’s 1603 Treasury Program drove developers to commission projects before yearend.
Concentrating solar power projects are expected to come online later in 2012 with a surge in 2013. More than 1,000 MW of CSP are under construction, enough to power 200,000 homes.
As of year-end 2011, cumulative PV capacity in the U.S. reached nearly 4,000 MW and cumulative CSP capacity topped 500 MW. Together this represents enough solar capacity to power nearly a million households.
“In 2011, the market demonstrated why the U.S. is becoming a center of attention for global solar,” said Shayle Kann, Managing Director of GTM Research’s solar practice. “It was the first year with meaningful volumes of large-scale PV installations; there were 28 individual PV projects over 10 megawatts in 2011, up from only two in 2009.”
“The solar industry is the fastest growing industry in America for the second year in a row. What we are seeing in the U.S. is that policies are working to open new markets and remove barriers for solar,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA. “But we face a number of challenges that have the potential to slow this growth.”