US solar panel shipments reach record levels

6 September 2022

US shipments of photovoltaic solar panels rose to a record level in terms of electricity-generating capacity during 2021, reaching 28.8 million peak kW in 2021, from 21.8 million in 2020. These figures are based on data from the US Energy Information Administration’s ‘Annual Photovoltaic Module Shipments Report’. The increase was driven by continued demand for US solar capacity.

US solar panel shipments include imports, exports, and domestically produced and shipped panels. In 2021, about 80% of solar panel shipments were imports, primarily from Asia.

The United States added 13.2 GW of utility-scale solar capacity in 2021, an annual record, and 25% more than the 10.6 GW added in 2020, according to the EIA’s ‘Annual Electric Generator Report’. Additions of utility-scale solar capacity reached a record high, despite project delays, supply chain constraints, and volatile pricing.

Small-scale solar capacity installations in the United States increased by 5.4 GW in 2021, up 23% compared to 2020 (4.4 GW). Most of the small-scale solar capacity added in 2021 was installed on homes – residential installations totalled more than 3.9 GW in 2021, compared with 2.9 GW in 2020.

The cost of solar panels has declined significantly since 2010. The average value (a proxy for price) of panel shipments has decreased from $1.96 per peak kW in 2010 to $0.34 per peak kW in 2021. Despite supply chain constraints and higher material costs in 2021, the average value of solar panels decreased 11% from 2020.

In 2021, the top two destination states for US solar panel shipments were California (5.09 million peak kW) and Texas (4.31 million peak kW)

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