Solar Installations Doubled Last Year, With California Leading the Way
The amount of photovoltaic solar panels installed in the United States more than doubled from 2010 to 2011, representing a historic year for the American solar industry.
A year-in-review report jointly released Wednesday by the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research found that 1,855 megawatts were installed nationwide in 2011, up from 887 megawatts in 2010 — for a growth of 109 percent.
“After a record-breaking 2011, the U.S. has proved itself as a viable market for solar on a global scale,” says the executive summary of the report. “In 2011, the U.S. market’s share of global (photovoltaic) installations rose from 5 percent to 7 percent and should continue to grow. We forecast U.S. market share to increase steadily over the next five years, ultimately reaching nearly 15 percent in 2016.”
Installation figures for photovoltaic, or PV, solar panels, which convert sunlight directly into electricity, include those on homes and businesses as well as much larger, utility-scale power plants.
One megawatt is enough to power about 750 to 1,000 homes. But because the sun doesn’t shine all the time, solar industry experts typically say that 1 megawatt of solar power capacity is sufficient to power about 200 households.
California continued to lead the nation, installing 542 megawatts, accounting for 29 percent of all installations in the country. Next came New Jersey, Arizona and New Mexico.
More than 61,000 individual solar projects were completed in 2011, including many large installations serving commercial or utility scale clients.
There were 28 projects larger than 10 megawatts each, up from just two in 2009.