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U.S. solar industry up 33%

Staff writer |
The U.S. solar industry saw solar photovoltaics (PV) market installed 723 megawatts (MW) in the first quarter, or 33 percent more than in the same period last year.

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This is the best first quarter ever for the industry, but was dwarfed by the previous quarter's peak of 1,310 MW, according to report released by the U.S. Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and GTM Research.

The new installations accounted for more than 48 percent of all new electric capacity installed in the U.S. As of the first quarter, the total solar electricity capacity installed reached 8,500 MW, enough to power more than 1.3 million households, said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA.

With the federal investment tax credit (ITC) currently in place through the end of 2016 and PV system prices continuing to fall each quarter, the U.S. solar market's prospects have never been better, said the SEIA in the report.

The ITC allows the solar industry to take 30 percent tax credit from the development cost. The average residential PV system price fell to $4.93 per watt in the first quarter from $5.86 per watt a year ago, and the average non-residential system price fell to $3.92 per watt from $4.64 per watt.

The SEIA predicted 4.4 gigawatts (GW) of PV will installed by the end of 2013, further growing to 9.2 GW annually in 2016.

The residential PV sector installed 164 MW in the first quarter, up 53 percent over the first quarter last year and 11 percent over the previous quarter.

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