US Solar Installed Capacity Sees Fastest Growth in 2010

Solar energy adoption was red hot in the United States last year.  In fact, solar saw the highest growth of any energy sector in the country.   According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)’s 2010 Year in Review, grid-tied photovoltaic (PV) installations saw a banner year with installations growing 878 MW even with through the troubling economic climate.   

Despite seeing the installed solar capacity in the United States double in 2010, the US lost market share globally from 6.5% in 2009 to 5% in 2010.  This is because of explosive growth of PV in Europe, specifically Italy and Germany.   While the US PV market grew to 102% in 2010, the global installed capacity grew by 130%.  In coming years, US PV installations are expected to keep this pace, while the world market is likely to slow down.

Of the 878 MW of PV installed in the US, 45% were for non-residential installations (including commercial, non-profit, and public projects) and the remaining portion was divided equally between utility and residential solar installations.  Non-residential installations saw a spike due to cheaper component prices and incentives, such as a cash grant in lieu of the federal tax credit and depreciation benefits

The states that saw the largest activity in 2010 include (in descending order):

  1. California
  2. New Jersey
  3. Nevada
  4. Arizona
  5. Colorado
  6. Pennsylvania
  7. New Mexico
  8. Florida
  9. North Carolina
  10. Texas

The states mentioned above encompass 85% of the country’s total installed solar capacity.  Massachusetts and Connecticut, who were part of the top 10 last year, were edged out this year.  What’s most interesting is that four states above are new to the top 10 list, including Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Texas.  California, who owns 80% of market share, is expected to see installation growth taper as its CSI rebate incentive dries up.  Incentives are a large, if not the largest, factor in the growth of installed solar capacity. 

Demand for PV in the United States will continue to be high in 2011.  I believe the US market may be the one to watch next year.  Brightstar Solar is a solar installer in Massachusetts and Connecticut.  We work with residential, commercial, and public customers to navigate the installation process and maximize solar financing and incentive opportunities.  If you are interested in learning more about how solar power can offset your electricity demand in your home or business in Massachusetts or Connecticut, please contact us for a free evaluation of your site.