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

December 10, 2010 By Nikki Chandler

Solar energy markets in the United States continued to surge during the third quarter of 2010, according to a report released by the Solar Energy Industries Association 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 sector grew 38 percent over the second quarter to reach 103 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 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. It 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.

 

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