U.S. ENERGY INFORMATION ADMINISTRATION
U.S. Solar Energy Manufacturers Ship Record Levels of Photovoltaic Units
Shipments of photovoltaic modules and cells reported by U.S. manufacturers in 1999 reached a record level of 77 thousand peak kilowatts, up 52 percent from 1998. This marked the fourteenth consecutive annual increase in photovoltaic shipments, according to information on the solar industry released today by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
The growth in shipments is due largely to a strong export market, which accounted for 72 percent of the shipments in 1999. Photovoltaic use in the U.S. has traditionally been for stand-alone units to provide electricity in remote areas. In 1999, however, shipments of photovoltaics for connection to the electric power grid increased by 75 percent over 1998 levels, from 14 thousand peak kilowatts to 25 thousand kilowatts.
Perhaps even more significant was the decrease in the average price of cells and modules. Average PV cell prices dropped one third between 1998 and 1999 to $2.01 per peak watt. Module prices also declined, from $3.94 per peak watt in 1998 to $3.62 in 1999. The net impact of higher shipments and lower prices was to increase the value of shipments by 21 percent in 1999 to $224 million.
Photovoltaic devices directly convert the sun's energy to electricity. A cell is a solid-state device used primarily to convert solar energy into electricity, while a module is a group of photovoltaic cells. Peak kilowatts refer to the maximum electric power output of the cells and modules.
EIA also collects data on solar thermal collectors. Shipments of solar thermal collectors increased by 11 percent (as measured by square footage) between 1998 and 1999. The value of these shipments decreased from $28 million to $26 million in 1999, because of a 17-percent decrease in the average price per square foot. More than 90 percent of shipments of solar thermal collectors were for use in the residential sector as swimming pool heaters. Solar thermal collectors use the sun's energy to heat a working fluid (often water) for heating.
Data tables covering most of the 1999 photovoltaic and solar thermal information are now available on EIA's Web site at http://www.eia.gov/cneaf/solar.renewables/page/solar/solarphoto_tab.html.
More complete data covering 1999 U.S. solar thermal collector and photovoltaic shipments will be reported in the publication Renewable Energy Annual, which is expected to be published in November 2000. Printed copies of the Renewable Energy Annual will be available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, 202/512-1800 or through EIA's National Energy Information Center, 202/586-8800.
EIA Program Contact: James Holihan, 202/426-1147