EIA Reports on U.S. Solar Manufacturing in 2005

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports annually on detailed historical data about solar manufacturing activities. In Solar Thermal and Photovoltaic Collector Manufacturing Activities 2005, the EIA presents extensive research on the industry, offering an overview supported by more than 50 tables of data spanning the years 1996 to 2004, which includes revisions and preliminary data for 2005.

The following excerpt reflects part of the report’s overview. To read it in full in Solar Thermal and Photovoltaic Collector Manufacturing Activities 2005 , please use the link at the end of this ‘In Focus.’ Since the beginning of 2005, U.S. energy prices have been generally increasing, in part due to hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and demand pressure on oil supplies from the Far East. This has increased interest in alternate energy sources, which include renewable energy sources such as solar. The U.S. manufacture of both solar thermal collector and photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules continued to grow at a strong pace in 2005. This occurred despite the fact that prices for solar panels and PV cells and modules rose due to material cost increases. The solar industry has been able to absorb most of the rising material costs because it has become more flexible in its production methods and supply arrangements over the past years. It has recovered from the nationwide economic downturn in 2003, showing significant growth in 2004 and 2005. Solar Thermal Collectors Domestic shipments of solar thermal collectors rose 10.4 percent to 14.7 million square feet in 2005. There were 25 companies shipping solar collectors in 2005, one more than in 2004. Total shipments rose to 16 million square feet, a 13.7 percent increase over 2004. Exports surged 67.4 percent, while imports increased 22.1 percent. …As in the previous years, the industry remained highly concentrated, with 92 percent of sales made by the 5 largest companies Employment increased more than 11 percent in 2005 to its second highest level over the past 10 years. A total of 22 companies were involved in the design of collectors or systems, 11 were involved in prototype collector development, and 11 were active in prototype system development. Sixteen companies had 90 percent or more of their total company-wide sales in solar collectors, while six companies had 50 to 89 percent, and three companies had less than 10 percent. Photovoltaic Cells and Modules The photovoltaic (PV) cell and module domestic shipments reached a record high of 134,465 peak kilowatts in 2005, a substantial 72 percent increase from the 2004 record of 78,346 peak kilowatts, and was an increase of more than 176 percent from the 2003 level. Rising electricity prices during the past two years have increased demand for PV products, which spawned new PV technology and business opportunities during 2005. …Among the market sectors, the commercial sector remained the largest sector for PV shipments, followed by the residential and industrial sectors. Commercial sector shipments totaled 89,459 peak kilowatts and grew at a rate of 20 percent from 2004 to 2005. The residential sector totaled 75,040 peak kilowatts. This report from the Energy Information Administration was prepared by the staff of the Renewable Information Team, Coal, Nuclear, and Renewables Division, Office of Coal, Nuclear, Electric and Alternate Fuels. Questions about the preparation and content of this report may be directed to Peter Wong ([email protected]).