Solar industry more than doubles capacity

The solar energy industry installed a record 1,855 megawatts of photovoltaic capacity in 2011, more than double the previous annual record of 887 megawatts set in 2010, according to a new U.S. Solar Market Insight report.

The record level of solar installations is enough to power more than 370,000 homes and marks the first time the U.S. solar market has topped one gigawatt in a single year. GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association estimate the U.S. solar market’s total value surpassed $8.4 billion in 2011.

Rhone Resch, president of the SEIA, said that another 3 gigawatts of solar capacity is under construction and that utilities and independent power producers are “finding that solar is an option for them.”

Steven Mufson covers energy and other financial news.
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