A new report from the Solar Energy Industries Association and Greentech Media Research showed that the United States was a net exporter of solar energy products in 2010, with a total positive balance of US $1.88 billion.
The United States had a solar energy positive trade balance with China that alone accounted for as much as $540 million. According to the report, $2.5 billion in polysilicon was exported from the United States; the material is the primary feedstock used in manufacturing crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells.
The report notes that though finished solar modules tend to be used as a benchmark for the health of the industry, a full 50 percent of solar energy–related revenue came from so-called "soft costs": site preparation, labor, permitting, financing, and others. And this is interesting: Though the country's largest export was polysilicon, its largest import was finished PV modules; $2.4 billion-worth of these were imported in 2010.
The $1.88 billion positive balance marks an amazing increase of more than 100 percent over the previous year. The United States was still a net exporter in 2009, but with a positive balance of $723 million.
(Image via SEIA/GTM Research)