Study shows that US is major solar exporter

The study, "U.S. Solar Energy Trade Assessment 2010", details the trade flow and domestic value creation in the U.S. solar industry. The report highlights the complex dynamics behind the global solar industry trading. The assessment states that the U.S. has net exports totaling US$723 million in 2009. On top of that, the U.S. solar installations created a US$2.6 billion direct value for the domestic economy. The other main highlights of the report include that the largest solar energy product export is polysilicon, the feedstock for crystalline silicon photovoltaics, of which the U.S. exported US$1.1 billion in 2009. The major import countries for photovoltaics were mainly China and Mexico. The export locations were primarily Germany and Japan.

Out of the 435 megawatts of PV installed in the country in 2009, 71 percent of the total PV system value was created domestically. The domestic value was comprised primarily of module manufacturing, site preparation, labor, ‘soft’ costs like legal services and permits as well as value chain mark-up for the module distributors and system installers.

"Solar is a global industry. The U.S. imports and exports product from every continent. But in addition to being a major net exporter of solar energy products, the industry is creating significant wealth in the United States and jobs in all 50 states," said Rhone Resch, President and CEO of SEIA according to the press release by the association. "We’re pleased that the solar industry is helping to reduce the U.S. trade deficit through significant exports of solar energy products. We are seeing investments in U.S. manufacturing in areas of the country hit hard by the recession – Tennessee, Michigan, Ohio and others. But we’re concerned that there is a lack of stable, long-term federal policies in the U.S. amidst an increasingly competitive global marketplace. Even modest federal policies like expanding the 48c manufacturing tax credit can help the U.S. solar industry remain one of the few sectors of our economy that is a net exporter, while creating tens of thousands of jobs," added Resch.

The full report can be found on the SEIA website.