Is solar an economic bright spot?

The United States domestic solar industry continues to be a bright spot in an otherwise down economy, according to a recent report by Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research.

The US solar power industry, according to the report, was a global net exporter last year. U.S. solar firms achieved a positive trade flow of $1.9 billion. 

Photovoltaic (PV) components accounted for more than 99 percent of the year’s exports, with solar heating and cooling claiming the remainder of the positive balance.

For the U.S. PV manufacturing industry, 2010 was a record year. Exports totaled more than $5.6 billion, with PV poly-silicon feedstock and capital equipment leading all components at $2.5 billion and $1.4 billion respectively.

The leading destinations for U.S.-sourced PV components were China and Germany.

Meanwhile, U.S. imports of PV products totaled $3.7 billion, the majority of which ($2.4 billion) came from procurement of modules assembled overseas. China and Mexico were the top two sources of PV goods headed to the U.S. in 2010.

The report goes on to state that the solar industry provides plenty of value to the US economy outside of PV manufacturing. Site preparation, labor, permitting, financing and other industry ‘soft costs’ comprised nearly 50 percent of total solar revenue in 2010.

The report found $4.4 billion of domestic revenue accrued last year from U.S. solar installations. This domestic value originated from both local and foreign firms employing U.S. resources on the ground for solar goods and services.

According to the report, for every dollar spent on a U.S. solar installation in 2010, $0.75 accrued to the U.S.

Steve Duda, EarthTechling