All eyes on U.S. photovoltaic market in 2011

As the U.S. photovoltaic market grows in 2011, the PV industry is looking to see if the U.S. market will start growing into its potential. It is becoming increasingly well positioned to become the focus of the global photovoltaic industry, according to “The U.S. PV Market in 2011,” a white-paper produced by Enfinity and GTM Research.

“All eyes are on the U.S. PV market in 2011,” said Enfinity’s CEO in the Americas Rafael Dobrzynski in a press release.

Enfinity is active both in the Americas and in Europe, he said.

“We continually get questions—from both sides—about the U.S. market’s potential, demand ramp-up, and the reality of a national feed-in-tariff,” he said.

According to the white paper, the U.S. market is already poised to jump to 10 percent of the world photovoltaic market in 2011. GTM Research managing director Shayle Kann, said that is just the midpoint.

“I think 8 percent to 12 is a decent range,” he said. He explained that the projections are assuming steady policy for 2011.

According to the report, the U.S. has ranged between 5 percent and 7 percent of global PV demand since 2005.

“In 2010, U.S. PV installations more than doubled to an estimated 820 MW [i.e. megawatts], up from 435 MW in 2009. Still, the U.S. share of global demand fell slightly to 5.4 percent,” the report stated. “While other markets such as Spain, Germany and the Czech Republic have faced drastic shifts, the U.S. has seen steady, if incremental, year-over-year growth.”

With the U.S. anticipated to reach 10 percent of global demand in 2011, that’s already a significant jump.

“That’s going to be out of a 19-gigawatt market,” Kann said. He added that Germany will constitute about 30 percent, or 6 gigawatts, in 2011.

The report points to three reasons to expect growth in U.S.’s photovoltaic market. The first is of course, the resource.

“Average daily insolation [how much solar radiation is on a given surface at a given time] in the U.S. ranges from 3.5 kWh/m2/day [i.e., kilowatt hours per meter squared per day] in the Northeast and upper Midwest to as high as 8.5 kWh/m2/day in the Southwest. In these regions, insolation reaches levels that are among the best photovoltaic resources in the world,” the report stated.

It added that even northeastern states offer solar resources that are, at a minimum, equal to or greater than those in Germany.

The last factor is the U.S. electric demand, it remains the highest per capita in the world.

“Electricity consumption in the U.S. is roughly 7.2 times the total in Germany and nearly 15 times as much as Spain,” stated the report.

The white paper is available for download at Enfinity’s site.