The 1.5 megawatt Stirling Energy Systems power plant in Peoria was one of only three that came online in 2010 nationally. That number likely will rise with projects such as Abengoa Solar’s Solana under construction.
Arizona solar made substantial strides in 2010 by installing over 54 megawatts of solar power, doubling its 2009 output of 21 megawatts, ranking it fourth in the U.S. According to a study by the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research, 878 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaic (PV) capacity and 78 MW of concentrating solar power (CSP) were installed in the U.S. in 2010, enough to power roughly 200,000 homes. In addition, more than 65,000 homes and businesses added solar water heating (SWH) or solar pool heating (SPH) systems. This was double the 435 megawatts installed in 2009 around the U.S. Despite some cutbacks in Arizona solar incentives in 2010, Arizona ranked behind only California solar (259 megawatts), with New Jersey and Nevada ranking second and third respectively.
Arizona’s increased solar installations was helped by federal incentives as well as those from programs at Arizona Public Service Co. and Salt River Project. In addition, Arizona has been pushing for a solar manufacturing cluster with some success at luring manufacturing. Last year, China-based Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. and California-based inverter manufacturer Power-One Inc. were among the newest solar manufacturers to move their facilities to Arizona, which already includes thin-film giant, First Solar.
Arizona also was one of a handful of states that brought online concentrated solar power. The 1.5 megawatt Stirling Energy Systems power plant in Peoria was one of only three that came online in 2010 nationally. That number likely will rise with projects such as Abengoa Solar’s Solana Generating Station under construction.
Nationally, the U.S. doubled its solar installations from 435 megawatts in 2009 to 878 megawatts in 2010, yet solar adoption still remains concentrated in a certain number of states. In addition to California, New Jersey, Nevada, Arizona and Colorado, the other top 10 solar states in the U.S. are Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Florida, North Carolina and Texas, which collectively make up 85% of the U.S. market.
Nevertheless, the U.S. market for solar power on homes is expected to continue to increase. “The U.S. PV market saw a breakthrough in 2010 and is emerging as a global demand center for both suppliers and project developers,” said Shayle Kann, managing director of solar at GTM Research. The report shows that SEIA’s goal of having solar panels on 2 million homes by 2015 is reachable, said Rhone Resch, SEIA’s president and CEO. “This report shows that solar energy is now one of the fastest growing industries in the United States, creating new opportunities for both large and small businesses."