The solar power industry is the fastest growing industry in America.
Today there are more than 5,500 companies operating in the U.S. solar supply chain employing more than 100,000 Americans. In 2011, the U.S. installed 1,855 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaic (PV) solar systems – enough to power more than 350,000 homes- representing 100% growth over 2010 installed capacity. The fourth quarter of 2011 saw 776 MW of PV installed, by far the most of any quarter in U.S. market history. At the end of 2012 over 4,458 Megawatts of solar power had been installed in the U.S. Growth in 2012 is set to continue at 2011 rates. (Source: SEIA & GTM Research’s Market Insight Report & U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, NREL).
The solar growth trajectory is impressive. Even so, as a percent of total energy produced, solar barely even registers on the scale. Solar represents just over 1/10 of 1% of our national energy production (Source: U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, NREL).
The U.S. solar industry is maturing.
As with any competitive and growing market, some companies will prosper and others will fail, and many will be consolidated. Remember the early 2000′s ‘dot com’ consolidation phase? In three years, nearly 5,000 companies were acquired or shut down during that period of rapid innovation in the dot com world. In the solar industry, Solyndra and other recent manufacturing bankruptcies are a casualty of successful rapid cost reduction in the solar industry, which made their relatively expensive technology uncompetitive. That price reduction is good for American consumers and continued solar growth – and it came about with the direct support of market-building government incentives that have stimulated demand for solar, both in the U.S. and abroad. (Source: Lawrence Berkeley National Lab’s Tracking the Sun IV)