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Study shows record growth for solar in Q3 2011

A study released this morning shows that the U.S. solar energy industry has seen 140 percent year-on-year growth, setting a record for solar installations this past quarter.

The  U.S. Solar Market Insight: 3rd Quarter 2011 study, from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and GTM Research, reports that over the third quarter of 2011, solar capacity in the U.S. grew by 449 MW – more than the total number of installations for the whole of 2009.

The report credits this growth to “utility-scale project completions, a strong residential market, effective policies and the plummeting price of solar panels.”

U.S. PV Installations 2010 to Q3 2011

This level of installations is a new quarterly record, and the study predicts that the fourth quarter will see even more installations as firms rush to take advantage of the Treasury Department’s 1603 program, which is set to expire at the end of this year.

But the report emphasizes that without an extension of the program, there may be a slowdown in installations in late 2012 and into 2013. Add in worsening trade relations with China, and the growth of solar electricity capacity in 2012 is looking to be slower than this past year.

“Solar is now an economic force in dozens of states, creating jobs across America,” said Rhone Resch, President and CEO of SEIA. “But our industry needs stable policy on which to make business decisions…To keep the industry growing and creating jobs in the U.S. we need Congress to extend the 1603 program.”

“The 1603 program has done more to expand the use of renewable energy than any other policy in U.S. history. Our country is not in a position to have Congress turn their back on American industries, and it is critical that Congress extend the 1603 program in the few days left before the end of the year.”


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