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The American solar industry more than doubled in megawatts last year, from 887 megawatts installed in 2010 to 1,855 megawatts installed in 2011. This growth represents enough solar energy to power over 350,000 homes! 2011 also marks the first time the U.S. solar market has topped one gigawatt (1,000 MW) in a single year.
Many factors contributed to this growth. The cost of installing solar panels fell 20 percent last year due to lower component costs and improved installation efficiency. Expanded financing options and a shift toward larger systems nationwide also made solar more affordable. In addition the 1603 Treasury Program, which offered rebates for businesses that installed solar panels, ended Dec. 31, 2011. This looming deadline drove developers to commission projects before the end of the year.
As 2011 drew to a close, solar capacity in the U.S. reached nearly 4,000 MW– 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.
Last month solar industry professionals gathered to explore new areas for growth in 2012 and beyond. PV America West, an expo held in San Jose, CA, showcased numerous solar innovations and featured presentations about community solar projects, developing solar installations on landfills, and the role of solar in the upcoming elections.
According to U.S. Solar Market Insight, 2012 will be another strong year for the PV industry, with installations of more than 2,800 megawatts forecasted.
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