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U.S. Solar Market Could Reach 1-GW of Installed Capacity in 2010

The U.S. solar electric market, including both photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP) installations, could surpass one gigawatt of installed capacity in a year for the first time, according to the inaugural U.S. Solar Market Insight.

The report, released by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and GTM Research, forecasts that 944 megawatts of solar electric capacity (comprised 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 percent over the 441 megawatts of solar electric capacity added in 2009, according to researchers.

“First half solar installations grew beyond expectations as a result of declining prices, continued government support and improving financial conditions,” said Shayle Kann, Managing Director, Solar at GTM Research, in a statement. “In spite of continued macroeconomic woes, the U.S. solar industry is on track to have a record year in 2010 for both installations and manufacturing.”

The report’s high forecast projects as much as 1.13 gigawatts being installed by year’s end, a 156 percent increase over 2009. The report projects a stronger second half for 2010 thanks to one large CSP project, several large PV projects and continued strength in the residential and non-residential markets.

California led states for solar electric capacity installed in the first six months of 2010 with 12 megawatts, followed by New Jersey, Arizona and Florida. In total, 341 megawatts were installed in the first half of the year, say researchers.

The report also finds that the solar heating and cooling market grew. The solar water heating (SWH) segment is expected to achieve its sixth consecutive year of growth in 2010, growing 16 percent with approximately 3 million square feet (mmsf) of installed solar thermal collectors by year-end compared to about 2.6 mmsf in 2009.

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 percent in 2010, installing approximately 11.5 million square feet.

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