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article imageRecord 109% Growth in US Solar Panel Installations

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By Yani Smith     Apr 26, 2012 in Environment
2011 was a record smashing year for the US solar industry, with 109% growth in the number of photovoltaic solar installations.
According to the US Solar Market Insight Report, over 1,800 megawatts (peak capacity) of photovoltaic solar panels were installed in 2011, up from the previous record of 887 megawatts in 2010.
The report, compiled by Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Green Tech Media (GTM) Research, looked at new photovoltaic (electricity producing) solar installations within the United States.
It states that the new installations are enough to power more than 370,000 homes.
The SEIA website quoted Shayle Kann, managing director of GTM Research, as saying the 2011 figures indicated a vibrant solar market, with 28 large-scale photovoltaic projects measuring over 10 megawatts — compared to just two projects in 2009.
Much of the year's boom came in the second half of 2011, with record breaking installation numbers in the third and fourth quarters.
The report found that growth occurred in all areas of the photovoltaic market — residential, non-residential, and utility.
Despite the growth in US installations, 2011 was a testing time for the solar industry, with the high profile bankruptcies of solar manufacturing companies Solyndra and Evergreen Solar.
The Solar Market Insight Report states that international demand for US manufactured solar products had also been slow, "as a result of regulatory changes in Italy and tepid growth in Germany."
According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, 2011 saw the US overtake China in clean energy investment for the first time since 2008.
One likely contributor to the increase in US installations was the dramatic drop in the cost of solar panels during 2011 — with prices falling around 50 percent.
Michael Liebreich, chief executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said "the cost of PV technology has fallen, but the volume of PV sold has increased by a much greater factor as it approached competitiveness with other sources of power."
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