U.S. Solar Panel Capacity to Grow by 50 Percent Annually: Report

phoenix-first-solar-panels-photo2536Installed solar panel capacity in the United States will grow by 48-50 percent or more each year for the next three years, according to a new report from GTM Research, the research arm of Greentech Media.

By 2012, PV capacity in the U.S. could surpass Germany, the current global leader.

The predict growth, extrapolated from research into the 16 largest state markets, represents not only a major expansion of clean solar energy, but over $6.1 billion in investments per year and the creation of 50,000 jobs, according to the report.

Size Matters

The predicted rate of growth is actually equivalent to growth over the last three years, which averaged about 54%, said Shayle Kann, one of the authors of the report. “But it is worth noting that this growth rate becomes more and more significant as the size of the market increases.”

Indeed, the report’s conservative estimates peg growth at 1.5 to 2 Gigawatts of newly installed PV capacity per year by 2012. For some perspective, in 2008, total installed PV nationwide was 800 MW, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Fueling the growth is an on-going price war in the crystalline silicon panel market, which is still experiencing a glut due to overproduction and the collapse of federal solar power incentives in Spain last year.

Add to that a 30 percent federal investment tax credit for eight years, the spread of state-level renewable energy portfolio standards, and a fleet of grants, tax credits and loan guarantees covering the entire industry from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and it is not hard to see where the 50%-plus growth could come from.

Other Key Findings from the report:

  • Grid Parity: The cost of photovoltaic solar power, including government incentives, will be equal to or cheaper than electricity from the grid in 11 states by 2012
  • Demand Up Despite Recession: US PV demand reaches 440 MW in 2009, up from 320 MW in 2008
  • Breaking the Gigawatt Barrier: US PV market demand grows by at least 1.5 Giga-Watts, potentially 2 GW a year by 2012
  • Size Matters: California will maintain its 50% market share — but secondary markets, such as Colorado, Arizona and New Jersey, will gain in importance due to increase in absolute size
  • Power to the People: Residential (“roof top”) solar installations will grow by 363 MW a year by 2012, from about 74 MW per year in 2008

For more see the free summary.

BC (Ben) Upham is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. He has written for the New York Times, and was a writer and editor for News Communications, Inc., a local paper consortium serving Manhattan. When he's not blogging on green issues -- and especially renewable energy -- he's hiking in the Angeles Mountains or hanging out at El Matador.

One response

Leave a Reply