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US solar PV activity rising

The US solar photovoltaic industry saw a 50% increase in shipments in 2007, according to a report from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), part of the Department of Energy (DoE).

The overview report “Solar Photovoltaic Cell/Module Manufacturing Activities 2007” show that the industry is now more than ten times the size it was in 1998.

There was a 53% increase in PV cell and module shipments totalling 517.7 MWp in 2007. Crystalline silicon cells and modules still dominate the market with a 60% share of all shipments, but thin-film has seen a doubling to 202.5 MWp since 2005. Concentrated PV made up on only 1% of shipments.

Total revenue from PV cells and module shipments grew 49% from US$1.16 billion in 2006 to US$1.72bn in 2007. The average price for modules decreased by about 4% to US$3.37/Wp, but for PV cells, the average price increased more than 9% to US$2.22/Wp.

More than a third of the shipments were for the domestic US market with the commercial sector receiving 50% of deliveries. Imports made up 46% of the total shipments.

There were 46 US PV manufacturers and/or importers in 2007, compared to 41 in 2006 and direct employment in the industry has risen by 53% to 6,170 people. Of the 46 companies active in 2007, up to 19 are expecting to introduce crystalline silicon products, up to six companies are planning to introduce new thin-film products, and two companies are expecting to provide new CPV products in 2008.

The report touches upon the silicon shortages that have come as a result of a booming industry, but says the supply problem has led to innovation for using silicon more effectively and efficiently through thin-film technologies.

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Photovoltaics (PV)