The U.S. solar photovoltaic (PV) market grew 69 percent over the same period last year, installing 314 megawatts of capacity in the second quarter of 2011.
Compared to the first quarter of 2011, solar installations increased by 17 percent, which can be seen as a moderately positive result. First quarter installations were supported by a shipment boom in the fourth quarter of 2010, due to the expected expiration of the Section 1603 Treasury Program. While this raised total first quarter 2011 installations, the effect was not felt through the second quarter. The 17 percent installation growth in the quarter is impressive when considered in this context. However, the first quarter is often seasonally weak, so growth in the second quarter is to be expected.
Over half of this installed capacity came from the non-residential or commercial sector. This market segment saw 204.6 megawatts installed and 22 percent growth from the first quarter. In the residential sector, installations reached 59.9 megawatts in the second quarter but decreased quarter-over-quarter by 5.7 percent. The utility segment experienced the strongest growth, with installations increasing 37 percent from the first quarter to 49.9 megawatts.
Throughout the past six years, the U.S. PV market has been growing at a relatively even pace with the global market -- U.S. market share has remained between 5 percent and 7 percent since 2005. However, this pattern will likely end in 2011. The first half of the year has seen the slowdown of major European markets, including Italy and Germany. This slowdown, combined with the continued strength of the U.S. market, has lead PV manufacturers and developers to explore opportunities in the U.S. market. For 2011, the U.S. market is expected to nearly double to 1.8 gigawatts of completed installations, despite a period of continued macroeconomic woes and a slowdown of many major global PV markets.
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