Solar Energy Report Demonstrates Record Growth Of U.S. Market After Two Years With Investment Tax Credits

April 27, 2008 by Jeff Shepard

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) released its 2007 U.S. Solar Industry Year in Review produced in conjunction with the Prometheus Institute. The report noted that 254MW of photovoltaic and concentrating solar power were installed in 2007. This included 150MW of grid-tied PV, 40MW off-grid, and 64MW of CSP. Another estimated 1,000MW (thermal) were installed as solar hot-water and space heating (100MW-thermal) and pool heating (900MW-thermal).

Concentrating solar power increased 18% to a total of 419 MW when Nevada Solar One came online last June – the first utility-scale CSP plant placed in service since the last Mohave Desert plant was completed in 1991. Contracted and announced CSP projects in the pipeline now total 4GW, including the world’s largest, the 280MW CSP to be built by Abengoa for Arizona Public Service. Four gigawatts of solar energy would power 1 million households.

Grid-tied PV increased 45% to a total of 750MW, led primarily by large commercial big-box retailers that placed solar on the roofs of their buildings, including Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Safeway, Home Depot and Costco. Also, the largest utility-scale PV system (14MW) was installed at Nellis Air Force base in Nevada and another 8MW system was installed for Xcel Energy in Colorado.

States that led in solar PV installation were: California (87.1MW); New Jersey (16.4MW); Nevada (14.6MW); Colorado (12.4MW); and New York (4.4MW). Eight states expanded incentives or requirements for solar energy including New Jersey, Florida, Maryland, New York and Nevada. To date 42 states have net metering rules allowing owners of solar energy systems to sell excess electricity back to the grid, however the program standards vary widely.

"As Congress evaluates different paths to secure and clean energy supplies, it is worth noting that with modest, temporary policy we can see such tremendous growth in such a short time," said Rhone Resch, President of the Solar Energy Industries Association. "In two years, solar energy has proven to be an economic engine for this country, creating thousands of green-collar jobs, unleashing billions in investment dollars, and building manufacturing from Ohio to Michigan to Oregon. Today, Congress has a chance to move our nation to a clean energy future while at the same time expanding our economy."

Federal investment tax credits for installing both residential and commercial solar energy systems expire December 31. Several bills in Congress include extensions and, in some cases, improvements to the tax credits.