U.S. Solar Manufacturers Report Higher Shipments

The shipment of solar thermal collectors in the United States reached a total of nine million square feet in 1999, an increase of 11 percent from the 1998 total of eight million square feet, according to’Renewable Energy Annual 2000′ released by the Energy Information Administration.

WASHINGTON, DC, US, 2001.03.14 <SolarAccess.com> Low-temperature solar collectors represented 95 percent of total shipments, while medium-temperature collectors were responsible for 5 percent. High-temperature collectors are used by utilities and non-utilities in grid electricity programs and represent less than 1 percent of total shipments, says EIA. The value of total shipments was $26 million in 1999, a decrease of 8 percent from 1998. The average price for total shipments decreased 17 percent, from $3.66 per square foot in 1998 to $3.05 ft2 in 1999, mainly due to a 27 percent decrease in the average price for low-temperature collectors, from $2.83/ft2 in 1998 to $2.08 in 1999. The residential sector continued to be the prime market for solar collectors, totaling nearly eight million square feet, or 91 percent of total shipments. The commercial sector had one million square feet (9 percent), and the largest end use for solar collectors shipped in 1999 was for heating swimming pools, consuming eight million square feet (95 percent) of total shipments. Photovoltaic cells and modules shipments reached 77 peak megawatts in 1999, an increase of 52 percent from the 1998 total of 51 MW. This was a substantially larger increase than the 9 percent increase experienced from 1997 to 1998. Module shipments accounted for 43 MW while cell shipments accounted for 34 MW. This change in module shipments represented an increase of 33 percent since 1998, compared with an 85 percent gain in cell shipments. Exports totaled 56 MW in 1999, representing 72 percent of total shipments, compared to 70 percent in 1998. Imports jumped to 5 peak megawatts. Crystalline silicon cells and modules continued to dominate the U.S. solar electric market in 1999, accounting for 96 percent of total shipments. Single-crystal shipments in 1999 totaled 47 MW (61 percent of total PV shipments) compared to 31 MW in 1998. Cast and ribbon silicon shipments totaled 26 MW in 1999 (34 percent of total shipments). Thin-film shipments remained constant at 3.3 MW in 1999 and represented only 4 percent of total shipments. The total value of PV cell and module shipments grew 26 percent to $234 million in 1999 from $185 million in 1998. For cells, the average price decreased 26 percent, from $3.15 in 1998 to $2.32 in 1999. The average price for modules (dollars per peak watt) decreased 8 percent, from $3.94 in 1998 to $3.62 in 1999, says the EIA report. The industrial sector replaced the residential sector as the largest market for PV cells and modules, growing 89 percent from 13 MW in 1998 to 25 MW in 1999. The residential sector grew 24 percent. Both the residential and industrial sectors have benefitted from new government-sponsored programs and loan subsidies in Japan and Germany. The United States has implemented a ‘Million Solar Roof-Top’ program at the State and national levels, as well as various loan programs. In addition, the U.S. experienced economic growth with higher disposable income levels in 1999. An increasing number of utilities sponsor ongoing programs such as net metering, portfolio standards, and green pricing. In general, a growing group of industries and residential sector customers appears willing to pay for PV installations. The commercial sector is the third largest sector in kilowatts shipped, and more than doubled its use of PV cells and modules in 1999. PV shipments for consumer goods, which more than tripled from 1997 to 1998, nearly doubled from 1998 to 1999. Electricity generation, which consists of both grid-interactive and remote applications, continues to be the predominant end use for PV cells and modules. In 1999, this sector accounted for 46 percent of total shipments, with grid interactive usage growing 75 percent. Export shipments increased 57 percent from 35 MW in 1998 to 56 MW in 1999. Germany and Japan were the largest export markets and accounted for 63 percent of U.S. PV shipments exported. Manufacturers of earth energy heat pumps shipped 49,162 geothermal units in 1999, an increase of 28 percent from the 1998 total of 38,266. The total rated capacity of heat pumps shipped in 1999 was 188,536 tons, compared to 141,446 tons in 1998.

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