United States on Track to Become the Third Largest Photovoltaic Market

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) divides the solar photovoltaic (PV) market into three sectors: residential rooftop, commercial rooftop, and utility-scale ground mount. According to the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA), solar PV has the third highest cumulative installed capacity for renewable energy sources after hydro and wind power.

The EPIA represents the interest of  the solar industry and has a global membership roll consisting of stakeholders  from along the entire solar PV value chain, including silicon, solar cells, solar module production, systems development,  PV electricity generation, and sales.

A recent report by IMS Research, a leading market research and consultancy firm out of Great Britain, states in its Q3 PV Demand Report that PV installations in the Americas (North America and South America) have reached 1.7 gigawatts (GW) for the first six months of 2012 compared to 750 megawatts (MW) completed during the same period in 2011 – a growth rate of 120%.

IMS expects the Americas to reach a minimum of 4.3 GW of new installations by the end of the year. Furthermore, the U.S. PV sector should finish 2012 with 3.5 GW of new capacity, which would rank the U.S. PV sector as the third largest photovoltaic market in the world behind Germany and China, according to the IMS Research report.  Italy will drop from third place into to fourth position.

“The Americas market, led by the USA was unseasonably strong in the first half and did not show any significant slowdown resulting from the anti-dumping duties,” said the director of the firm’s PV Research Division Ash Sharma.

When it comes to global PV installations, more than 13 GW of new photovoltaic capacity was added during the first six months of 2012 – a 35% increase over the same period last year and a record for new installation capacity completed over a six-month period. Germany and the United States led the way. Despite a record-setting pace from Germany during the first half of 2012, with 4.4 GW of new capacity, IMS Research estimates Europe will experience a net decrease of 3 GW in new capacity for 2012.

Most of the drop off will occur in Germany and Italy. However, new installations in the Americas, Japan and China will set a new 6-month record, with another 18 GW of new capacity expected to come on line during the second half of 2012. Overall, the U.S. PV sector will account for 40% of new PV installations worldwide.

At the end of 2011, the global PV market had about 30 GW of cumulative installed capacity, with Germany and Italy accounting for 50% of PV installations, based on EPIA figures.

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