An undeniable force

If you think the interest in photovoltaic (PV) products and systems is a passing fad, consider the following statistics provided by The Solar Foundation's National Solar Jobs Census 2011:

  • As of August 2011, the U.S. solar industry employed 100,237 people—a 6 percent increase since August 2010.
  • Solar job growth is expected to increase 24 percent during the next 12 months.
  • Almost 44 percent of PV manufacturing firms and more than 45 percent of sales and distribution firms expect to add jobs during the next 12 months.

The Solar Energy Industries Association®'s (SEIA's) U.S. Solar Market Insight™ report states the first quarter of 2012 saw the second highest number of PV system installations ever in the U.S. (the first highest was 2011's fourth quarter).

According to the report, the U.S. market share of global PV system installations will reach nearly 11 percent this year, a 4 percent increase from 2011. Residential PV system installations increased 12 percent during the first quarter, and nonresidential installations increased 14 percent.

The growth is fueled partly by falling prices: SEIA's report shows average installed prices for PV systems decreased 17.2 percent during the past year.