With solar installations that only measured in a few hundred megawatts in 2008 and 2009, the U.S. could hardly lay claim to being a player in the gigawatt-sized global solar market.

But 2010 marks a significant shift in the U.S. solar market.

The details of this transformation can be found in the year-end U.S. Solar Market Insight™ report, a collaboration between the Solar Energy Industries Association® (SEIA®) and GTM Research. The report delves deeply into industry trends in the U.S. photovoltaic, concentrating solar power, solar hot water and space heating (SWH) and solar pool heating (SPH) markets through surveys of installers, manufacturers, utilities and state agencies.  The executive summary is available for download here. The full report is available here and here.

The full report has component pricing for cells and modules in the U.S., as well as detailed installation data in each market segment by state and by quarter.

There were a few major themes in the U.S. 2010 solar market according to Shayle Kann, Managing Director of Solar at GTM Research.

  1. The U.S. market is large, growing and and a focus for every solar manufacturer. The market doubled to 878 megawatts of PV in 2010 and 78 megawatts of CSP. The industry’s total market value grew 67 percent from $3.6 billion in 2009 to $6.0 billion in 2010.
  2. The utility market in the U.S. is real. 2010 saw 242 megawatts of utility-scale projects come on-line and that trend is only going to grow.
  3. Geographic diversification is a reality in the U.S. The American solar story used to be dominated by California, but now California is just 30 percent of the U.S. market, with 16 states installing at least 10 megawatts each in 2010. Just as Germany is no longer the "savior state" for global PV, California is now just one of many U.S. PV markets.



The market's expansion was driven by the federal section 1603 Treasury program, completion of significant utility-scale projects, expansion of new state markets and declining technology costs. The section 1603 Treasury program helped fourth-quarter installations surge to a record 359 megawatts and was critical in allowing the solar industry to employ more than 93,000 Americans in 2010.  
The 75-megawatt Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center was completed in 2010; it is the largest U.S. CSP plant to come on-line in nearly 20 years. For the first time, the federal government approved permits for seven CSP plants on public land, which will add 3,560 megawatts of new capacity.

The executive summary is available for download here. The full report is here and here.

Other Background Materials:

-Details on the solar energy companies operating in each state, plus examples of the jobs being created.

-U.S. Solar Energy Trade Assessment 2010 report finds the U.S. is a net exporter of solar products.

-Major Solar Projects list

-BLM Solar Projects fact sheet