Solar installations spiked in the second quarter of this year as large solar power plants came online, according to a report released Monday by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association.
The amount of photovoltaic solar panels installed across the country reached 742 megawatts in the second quarter, up from 512 megawatts in the first quarter. More solar was installed in the second quarter than in all of 2009.
Analysts with GTM Research expect that by year-end, 3,200 megawatts will be installed nationwide. Photovoltaic, or PV, solar panels convert sunlight directly into electricity. Installation figures include those on homes and businesses as well as much larger, utility-scale power plants. Much of the growth in the second quarter was fueled by the completion of more than 20 large solar power plant projects in key states like Arizona and California. Utility installations accounted for 477 of the 742 megawatts, while the commercial sector was 196 megawatts and residential was 98 megawatts. California remains the nation’s leading market, with 217 megawatts installed in the second quarter, followed by Arizona with 173 megawatts.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company has a 25-year power purchase agreement to buy electricity from First Solar’s 290-megawatt Agua Caliente project currently under construction in Yuma County, Ariz. First Solar announced Monday that 250 megawatts are now connected to the grid, and the full plant should be finished in 2014. When complete, Agua Calinete should displace more than 5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide over 25 years, the equivalent of taking more than 40,000 cars off the road each year.