America historically lagged behind European countries in solar development due to lack of a national FIT program. Italian and German markets have suffered from price decreases cause by oversupply and slowed demand in 1H11. High inventory levels have pushed manufacturers to seek buyers else where. Many eyed the growth in America as an opportunity to make up for the bad news in the Euro zone.
New installation volume in America reached 900MW in 2010, an 80% increase YoY. EnergyTrend projects that this year’s installation is projected to continue to grow at an exponential rate to 2 GW. Two consecutive years of considerable growth has put America in the third place in solar market ranking after Germany and Italy.
Of the total new installations this year, 1.4G will be ground mounted solar installations, 710MW will be in commercial applications and 270MW will be in residential applications. California remains the largest state for solar installations which are expected to reach 1GW this year while New Jersey, though much smaller in size, is the second largest state for new solar installation, totaling 260MW this year.
The expected installations will grow 25.6% to 49000 projects compared to 39000 in 2010. The American government uses tax incentives (up to 30% tax refund) to encourage solar installations which have successfully increased the corporate willingness to implement solar systems. This is why we see more commercial applications than residential applications today.
Although the American economy is rather unstable, federal, state and local governments have strived to stimulate the market demand of solar energy. In the long run, there is great upside potential for residential applications.
Policies such as Investment Tax Credit (ITC), Treasury Cash Grants and Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) have promoted the growth of public constructions of solar systems. The percentage of on-grid solar power grew from 17% in 2009 to 31% in 2010.