The U.S. market is a bright spot in a tough global environment for solar, says a quarterly market report from Solar Energy Industries Association, or SEIA. Manufacturers in Europe are selling to the expanding U.S. and Chinese markets – the latter of which has seen explosive growth – as their own economies falter and manufacturing margins diminish. In the U.S., each state presents a different story.
The report, “U.S. Solar Market Insights,” is information aggregated from over 200 companies and identifies trends in demand, manufacturing and pricing by state and market segment. An executive summary is available here.
The U.S. installed 742 MW of solar in the second quarter of 2012, doubling last year’s installations for the same time period. SEIA identified several trends that may be driving the expansion.
Among them, the price of an installed photovoltaic system has dropped by 33 percent since last year, which means demand is driven by solar radiation and electricity costs more than incentives, the report says. In addition, the report says the residential third-party financing system has done well in every state that it operates, as the chart below illustrates.
The report is also early to point out that commercial and utility markets have struggled when incentives and solar renewable energy credits have declined, an indication, SEIA says, that system prices must fall further before government support is unneeded. And while utility-scale installations are “booming,” utility procurement has started to wane.
Still, GMT Research – a smart-grid and solar analysis company that partners with SEIA – is attributed in the report predicting a total 3.2 GW of photovoltaic installations in the U.S. this year, a 71% increase over last year. If that occurs, U.S. global market share will surpass 10%, doubling its 2010 percentage.
The report follows installations in 24 states and Washington, D.C. Unsurprisingly, the top states for installations in Q2 2012 were California (217 MW), Arizona (173 MW) and New Jersey (103 MW). The report also highlights Maryland and Massachusetts, which have experienced impressive growth, and New Jersey, which the report says is undergoing a “long-expected correction.”
Other key findings of the report include:
- Q2 2012 was the best quarter for utility-scale projects ever, with 20 projects and 447 MW installed.
- In concentrating solar power, two projects, the 100-MW Quartzsite Project and the 100-MW Moapa Solar Energy Center, were expedited under President Obama’s “We Can’t Wait” initiative.
- At the end of Q2, 546 MW of CSP capacity is operating in the U.S.
Solar Energy Industries Association