US Installs 342-MW of Solar PV In 2008

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has released its 2008 U.S. Solar Industry Year in Review, highlighting a third year of record growth for the solar industry. According to the report 1,265 megawatts (MW) of all varieties of solar power were installed in 2008, bringing total U.S. solar power capacity up 17 percent to 8,775 MW.

The 2008 figure included 342 MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) installations, 139 MWTh (thermal equivalent) of solar water heating, 762 MWTh of pool heating and an estimated 21 MW of solar space heating and cooling.

“Despite severe economic pressures in the United States, demand for solar energy grew tremendously in 2008,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA. “Increasingly, solar energy has proven to be an economic engine for this country, creating thousands of jobs, unleashing billions in investment dollars and building new factories from New Hampshire to Michigan to Oregon.”

The grid-tied PV market led the overall PV market with 292 MW installed in 2008, a growth rate of 81 percent from the 161 MW installed in 2007. Solar water heating installation grew 139 MWTh last year, a 50 percent increase from the 93 MWTh installed in 2007. Pool heating growth slowed by 3 percent in 2008 to 762 MWTh installed, down from 785 MWTh installed in 2007.

California was the leader among state grid-tied PV installations with 178.6 MW, New Jersey followed with 22.5 MW installed, Colorado was next at 21.6 MW, Nevada installed 13.9 MW and Hawaii with 11.3 MW. For solar water heating systems, Hawaii led states, installing 37 percent of the total U.S. systems in 2008, followed by Florida at 20 percent, California with 7 percent and both Colorado and Arizona with 5 percent. The Mid-Atlantic States, an important emerging region for solar, installed 7 percent of solar water heating systems.

Solar PV manufacturing capacity in the U.S. increased by 65 percent in 2008, creating much needed jobs in states such as California, Michigan, Ohio, Oregon and Tennessee. Total production capacity in those states now stands at approximately 685 MW.

“The growth of solar manufacturing jobs in the U.S. was a breath of fresh air for communities hit hard by the recession. The recently enacted manufacturing tax credit will give further incentive to manufacturers, such as my company Suntech America, to invest in new operations in the U.S.” said Roger Efird, chairman of SEIA and president of Suntech America Inc. “With the right policies, solar deployment will continue robust growth and thousands of new green-collar jobs in manufacturing will be created in states where jobs are needed most.”

No new concentrating solar power plants came online in the United States this past year, but projects now in the pipeline add up to more than 6 gigawatts (6,000 MW). Among these are projects planned for California’s Mojave Desert, Arizona and Florida.

Clcik here to download the full 2008 U.S. Solar Industry Year in Review.

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