US Solar Power Market Grows 37% In 2009 - Study - Dow Jones

US Solar Power Market Grows 37% In 2009 - Study

Apr 17, 2010 - Dow Jones

The U.S. solar power market grew 37% in 2009 from the previous year, with 481 megawatts of new solar generation installed, up from 351 megawatts installed in 2008, the Solar Energy Industries Association said Thursday.

The new additions boosted U.S. solar power capacity to more than 2,000 megawatts, or 2 gigawatts, enough to serve more than 350,000 homes, the group said. Much of the growth was driven by the rooftop residential solar-panel market, which doubled last year, while three new solar-thermal power plants also boosted solar output, the group said.

Employment in the U.S. solar power sector grew by 10,000 jobs from 2008 to 2009, with current employment in the solar industry and the industry's supply chain currently at about 46,000 jobs, SEIA said.

California accounted for half of the new solar additions last year, with 220 megawatts of new solar power installed, followed by New Jersey, where 57 megawatts of solar, or 13%, was installed, and Florida, where 36 megawatts, or 8%, of the nation's new solar power was installed.

California, which has abundant sunshine and aggressive renewable energy requirements, has two-thirds of the nation's installed solar power capacity, or about 1,100 megawatts, according to SEIA.

Federal and state tax credits have helped drive growth in the industry. Since early 2009, nearly 200 solar-power project owners have applied for U.S. Treasury grants that the government made available in lieu of tax credits, for projects that together are worth more than $270 million, SEIA said.

-By Cassandra Sweet, Dow Jones Newswires; 415-439-6468; cassandra.sweet@