A September 20 report on the U.S. solar market found the number of PV installations for the second quarter of 2011 to be 69 percent higher than the same period last year.
The 314 megawatts of grid-connected PV installations is a 17 percent increase from the first quarter of 2011. That capacity is large enough to provide electricity to almost 63,000 homes.
The second quarter edition of the U.S. Solar Market Insight report was released by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and GTM Research. SEIA and GTM Research claim that the U.S. is on track to install 1,750 megawatts of PV installations this year, doubling last year’s total.
The report also found New Jersey to be the largest commercial PV market in the country, topping California for the first time. The United States now has grid-connected PV installations with a capacity of 2.7 gigawatts, enough to provide electricity for 540,000 homes.
“The second quarter data illustrates that the U.S. solar industry continues to be one of the fastest growing in America,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA. “More than 100,000 Americans are employed in solar, twice as many as in 2009. They work at more than 5,000 companies – the vast majority being small businesses – across all 50 states.”
The growth has been led by the commercial and utility markets, which posted an increase of 22 percent and 37 percent respectively. There was, however, a 5.7 percent decline in residential installations from last quarter.
While SEIA and GTM Research predict an expansion of solar-leasing programs to be a driver for residential PV growth during the second half of 2011 and into 2012, there are potential hurdles along the way.
A significant portion of the growth was due to government incentives, including the 1603 Treasury program, a U.S. Treasury Department program that reimburses 30 percent of a projects’ costs to developers. The program is set to expire at the end of 2011. The report predicts downturns in major U.S. markets like California, New Jersey and Pennsylvania if the Treasury program is not renewed.
Shayle Kann, Managing Director of Solar at GTM Research, remained positive. “Still, with increasing market diversity and the continued emergence of the utility-scale solar market, we anticipate that the U.S. market share of global installations will triple over the next four years,” he said.
Read the executive summary of the report here.