WASHINGTON, DC, US, October 15, 2007. The shipment of solar PV cells and modules in the United States has increased almost ten-fold in the past decade, including a 50% jump from 2005 to 2006.
Data from the Department of Energy show that total shipments in 1997 was 46,354 kW (peak), of which 1,853 kW were imports and 33,793 kW exports. By 2005, total shipments were 226,916 kW (90,981 imports, 92,451 exports), rising to 337,268 kW last year (173,977 imports, 130,757 exports).
The number of companies involved in the U.S. PV industry was steady at 20 from 1997 to 2004, when it increased to 29 in 2005 and 41 in 2006, DOE’s Energy Information Administration explains in its annual report on PV manufacturing activities. The data does not include shipments of cells and modules for space/satellite applications.
Of the 337,268 kW, the largest type (44%) was cast & ribbon at 147,892 kW, up from 64,239 kW (35%) in 2004. Single-crystal silicon represented another 25% (85,627 kW), down from the 52% share of shipments only three years earlier. Thin-film was 30% (101,766 kW), up from 12% in 2004, while concentrator accounted for the final 1% (1,984 kW).
Prices for cells and modules continue to climb in the U.S., with the average price of cells last year at US$2.03 per peak watt (down from 2.17 in 2005) but modules prices at $3.50 (up from $3.19 the year prior). Single-crystal modules averaged $4.09 while cast & ribbon were $3.66 per watt. Data for thin-film and concentrator silicon were not released to avoid disclosure of proprietary company data.
Installers provided the largest distribution last year at 146,948 kW (34,779 in 2004), followed by wholesale (126,101 vs 106,400), module manufacturers (9,635 vs 11,868), retail distributers (7,086 vs 5,140), exporters (4,188 vs 2,354) and end users (3,092 kW in 2006 vs 1,029 kW in 2004). For end users, electric generation was accounted for 274,197 kW of grid interactive and 18,003 remote, 6,888 for communication, 4,030 for consumer goods, 2,438 for transportation, 2.093 for water pumping, and 6,132 kW of cells/modules to OEM.
The number of companies involved in the solar PV manufacturing industry in the United States was 41 in 2006, compared with 21 in 1997, while employment (Person-Years) grew from 1,736 to 4,028 last year. Total revenue for complete PV systems was $193 million last year, compared with $39 million in 2004.
“This may be a sign of confidence from investors as well as the solar energy industry itself about the future of the solar energy market,” the report explains. “This outlook is supported by the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) policies of some western states (Arizona) requiring that a certain portion of the RPS be solar-based.”
Of the 130,757 kW exported out of the U.S., Germany was the largest destination at 80,583 kW (62%), with Spain 15,241, Portugal 6,605, China 4,403 and South Korea 4,021 kW comprising the top five.
The PV industry is actively promoting new products, with 14 companies expecting to introduce new crystalline silicon products this year and six companies planning to introduce new thin-film products to the industry. Four companies plan to produce new concentrator photovoltaic products, and many companies engaged in the manufacture or import of PV modules and cells say they are involved in other PV-related activities.