The headline here is that in 2010 the U.S. was a net exporter of solar energy products to the tune of $1.9 billion.
The breakdown on 2010 figures:
U.S. solar had a positive trade balance with China, with figures running from $247 million to $540 million.
The U.S. has become a major expoerter of polysilicon, the basic material needed to make crystalline silicon solar panels — the most common type. In 2010, we sent $2.5 billion worth of polysilicon overseas.
Our second biggest expoert is manufacturing equipment for photovoltaic panels, where our sales were $1.4 billion.
The catch in all this is that our biggest import was PV modules, where we spent $2.4 billion. In other words, it looks like we’re exporting the basic materials and machines and then buying back finished products.
Finally, on the domestic front, GTM and SEIA calculated solar installations in the U.S. generated about $6 billion in business, with about $4.4 billion staying in the U.S. On a micro level, what that means is that for every dollar spent on a solar installation in the U.S. last year, 75 cents stayed here.
The breakdown by technology:
– $3.6 billion from photovoltaic
– $419 million from solar thermal, also called concentrating solar
– $400 million from solar heating and cooling.
Hopefully more of those dollars will be spent in the Coachella Valley and eastern Riverside County if and when large-scale solar projects begin construction in the Riverside East solar zone between Joshua Tree National Park and Blythe. Smaller, micro-grid projects–50 megawatts or less–are also in the valley’s future.