IREC Releases U.S. Solar Trends (2007) Report

IREC has just released Larry Sherwood’s U.S. Solar Market Trends for 2007. This work was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy through the Solar America Initiative.

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Solar markets are booming in the United States due to rising energy prices, strong consumer demand, and financial incentives from the federal government and many states and utilities. Over 80,000 installations were completed in 2007, but the majority of market share for each solar technology is concentrated in a few states.

The capacity of photovoltaic (PV) installations completed in 2007 grew by 48% compared with 2006, and the average size of PV systems is growing. The two largest U.S. installations, one in Nevada and one in Colorado, were completed in 2007. The PV market is expanding to more states, though California remains the dominant market.

Solar hot water installations (low-temperature thermal) have boomed since the 2006 increase in the federal investment tax credit. In the continental 48 states, installations have quadrupled since 2005. Hawaii continues to be the largest market for solar hot water.

For concentrating solar electricity (high-temperature thermal), the 64 MW Nevada Solar One solar thermal electric plant went on-line June 2007. Other than a smaller 1 MW plant built in Arizona in 2006, this was the first new U.S. solar thermal electric plant constructed in over 15 years.

Over the long-term, the prospect for solar markets is bright. However, the fate of the federal investment tax credits, currently scheduled to expire at the end of 2008, will have a strong influence on the U.S. solar markets in 2009.

This report provides data on U.S. solar installations by technology, state, and market sector. Data on solar installations helps industry, government, and non-profit organizations improve their efforts to increase the number of solar installations across the United States. Analysis of multi-year installation trends and state installation data helps these sectors learn more about the state markets and evaluate the effectiveness of marketing, financial incentives and education initiatives. In addition, these data allow better understanding of the environmental and economic impacts of solar installations.

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