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August 29, 2011

U.S. Solar Exports in the Billions

U.S._Solar_Energy_Trade_Assessment_2011_Figure 1-1_-_Solar_Industry_Trade_Flows_-_2010

If you're searching for some positive economic news, look no further than the U.S. solar industry. A report released today found that American solar companies in 2010 accounted for a net $1.9 billion in global exports, with almost all of it coming from photovoltaic products. Total exports for the year reached more than $5 billion worth of solar products, an increase of 83 percent over the previous year.

The U.S. was a net exporter to China by more than $240 million -- contradicting conventional wisdom that China is winning the clean-energy race. Last year's U.S. solar energy installations "created a combined $6 billion in direct value, of which $4.4 billion accrued to the U.S.," according to the report that was authored by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association.

"In 2010, we grew by over 100 percent, we achieved a significant positive trade balance, and we exported more goods and services to China than we imported," Rhone Resch, CEO of SEIA, said in a statement. "Solar energy is an industry invented in the U.S. that is helping our country reclaim our manufacturing leadership and creating tens of thousands of jobs."

Winning the future has never looked so sunny. In the first quarter of 2011, the U.S. installed 252 MW of photovoltaics -- up 66 percent compared to the first quarter of 2010. One of the biggest drivers for solar's success has been the drop in price. It keeps getting cheaper, and the technology keeps getting better -- while fossil-fuel prices continue to climb.

Between rebates and leases, signing up for solar has never been easier. This month's Sierra magazine has the details on easy, affordable solar deals. The Sierra Club is now partnering with SunRun and Sungevity in a California pilot program to connect Club members and supporters with solar. Get more info here.

-- Brian Foley

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