The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently released its “Solar Photovoltaic Cell/Module Manufacturing Activities 2009” report, and the results demonstrate the rapidly evolving landscape of the U.S. solar PV manufacturing industry. In 2009, the industry reached a record high 1.3 peak gigawatts of shipments, the sixth-consecutive year of growth and a 30% increase from 2008. According to EIA, an influx of stimulus spending and a decrease in manufacturing costs largely contributed to this increase.
Domestic shipments increased 15% over the course of 2009 to 601,133 peak kilowatts, 47% of which went to commercial electricity generation. Installers, at 36% of the domestic market share, were the largest customer type, followed by wholesale distributors at 23%. The solar photovoltaic module/cell market made shipments to all 50 states, with California and New Jersey combining for 55% of all domestic shipments.
At 57%, imports accounted for more than half of total shipments for the third time in four years. The importation of 743,414 peak kilowatts, 95% of which were crystalline silicon cells and modules, represented a 27% increase from 2008. China (31.75%), Philippines (28.68%), and Mexico (17.83%) were the top importers. Japan had the furthest decline in U.S. imports, falling from 24.85% of total imports in 2008 to 11.32% in 2009.
Although import shipments constituted greater than half of total shipments in 2009, export numbers actually increased 47% from 2008. Buoyed by crystalline silicon cells and modules, exports surpassed domestic shipments for the first time since 2004. Germany dominated the U.S. solar industry export market in 2009 with 45.37% of total exports, followed by Italy (15.88%) and France (6.94%).