The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and GTM Research have released the inaugural U.S. Solar Market Insight report with data for the first half of 2010 showing significant growth in the U.S. solar industry despite the continuing struggles of the overall economy.
In 2010, the U.S. solar electric market, including both photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP) installations, could achieve a major milestone by surpassing one gigawatt of installed capacity in a year for the first time — enough to power 200,000 homes. The report's baseline forecast projects that 944 megawatts of solar electric capacity (composed of 866 MW of PV and 79 MW of CSP) will be installed in the U.S. in 2010. This represents a growth of 114% over the 441 megawatts of solar electric capacity added in 2009. The report's high forecast projects as much as 1.13 gigawatts being installed by year's end, a 156% increase over 2009.
California led states for solar electric capacity installed in the first six months of 2010 with 120 megawatts, followed by New Jersey, Arizona and Florida. In total, 341 megawatts were installed in the first half of the year. The report projects a stronger second half for 2010 because of one large CSP project, a number of large PV projects and continued strength in the residential and non-residential markets.
The solar heating and cooling market also grew. The solar water heating (SWH) segment will have a sixth consecutive year of growth in 2010, growing 16% with approximately 3 million square feet (mmsf) of installed solar thermal collectors expected by year-end compared to about 2.6 mmsf in 2009. The projected 3 mmsf of collectors would provide hot water for nearly 50,000 homes, businesses and other facilities across the U.S. Hawaii installed the most square feet of solar water heaters, followed by Puerto Rico and California. The solar pool heating segment is expected to grow by 7% in 2010, installing approximately 11.5 million square feet.
U.S. Solar Market Insight also projects market demand through 2015. The study's more aggressive projections forecast that annual U.S. solar electric installations will approach SEIA's industry goal of installing 10 gigawatts per year by 2015, enough to power 2 million new homes annually, while its baseline forecasts fall short of that figure.