Report: U.S. Solar Cell Market Increased 33 Percent in 2006

March 28, 2007

The installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) devices in the United States increased by about 33 percent in 2006 over the previous year, according to a new report from Solarbuzz, LLC. Worldwide PV installations totaled 1,744 megawatts (MW) in 2006, a new record and a growth of 19 percent over 2005. The United States contributed just 8 percent of those installations, or about 140 MW, while Germany led the world market with 960 MW of PV installations, comprising 55 percent of the world's total PV installations for 2006. To supply that market, the global production of solar cells reached 2,204 MW in 2006, a growth of 33 percent over PV production in 2005, while the production of polysilicon—a critical ingredient for silicon solar cells—increased by 16 percent. See the summary of the report on the Solarbuzz Web site.

This year is shaping up to be another banner year for PV installations in the United States. In early February, the Colorado Public Utility Commission (PUC) approved an 8-MW PV installation, which SunE Alamosa1, LLC will construct in Alamosa before year's end to provide solar power to Xcel Energy and its customers. On March 22nd, the Nevada PUC approved a 20-year contract between Nevada Power Company and Solar Star NAFB for the installation of an 18-MW PV installation at Nellis Air Force Base. The Nevada PUC also approved 562 applications for customer-sited PV installations that will qualify for the state's SolarGenerations program. See the press releases from the Colorado PUC and the Nevada PUC.

Photo of a large expanse of solar panels with buildings and mountains in the background.

The field of solar panels at Western Wine Services in California's Napa Valley stretches off toward the horizon.
Credit: SPG Solar, Inc.

Of course, California continues to demonstrate its solar power leadership by installing large PV systems throughout the state. On March 22nd, Chevron Energy Solutions began building a 1-MW PV system that will form a parking structure at California State University, Fresno. In mid-March, San California Gas Company (a subsidiary of Sempra Energy) presented a $3.4 million incentive check to Peninsula Packaging for installing a 1-MW PV system at its facility in Exeter. On March 1st, the City of San Diego unveiled a 1-MW PV system at its Alvarado Water Treatment Plant, while SPG Solar, Inc. announced the completion of an 827-kilowatt PV system at Western Wine Services in the Napa Valley. On March 19th, SPG Solar also completed a 500-kilowatt PV system for the Sonoma County Water Agency. See the press releases from Chevron Energy Solutions, Sempra Energy, and the City of San Diego (PDF 37 KB), as well as the March 1st and March 19th press releases from SPG Solar. Download Adobe Reader.