Third quarter photovoltaic (PV) installations in the United States increased 40%, says a report released recently by the trade group Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and research firm GTM Research.
Q3 2011 installations were 449.2MW, up from 324.3MW during the same quarter last year. Including these Q3 additions, over 1GW of solar energy capacity was installed this year in the United States – the first time that pinnacle level has been reached.
With a strong Q4 predicted as well, SEIA estimates this year’s PV installations will total 1.7GW, representing an annual growth rate of 89% over the last year.
This sharp increase in installations has been fueled by free-falling prices of solar panel components. Over the past year, a global supply glut has led to a near 40% drop in prices.
This trend has taken a toll on solar manufacturers, but at the same time has propelled increased installations. Projects that did not make economic sense at previous price points are now easier to justify. In addition, federal subsidies and state incentive programs have helped make solar energy cheaper for residential, commercial and municipal consumers.
Looking ahead to 2012, SEIA is expecting another year of growth for the U.S. PV market.