Yesterday, I focused a bit small-scale or medium-scale solar (in the US & UK) here on CleanTechnica. On the flip side, news today from Solarbuzz is that utility-scale photovoltaic solar is growing fast in North America and looking for 2012 to be its top year yet.
Q4 2011 Saw Record Installations
“Sharp reductions in market prices combined with the impact of regional and national policies pushed the North American photovoltaic market to a new quarterly peak with 0.93 GW installed in Q4’11, according to the latest North American PV Markets Quarterly report issued by NPD Solarbuzz, “the solar market research and analysis company notes.
“The solar incentive policy mix in both the United States and Canadian markets drove up demand in large-scale ground-mount systems, which was 59% of this total. Regionally, the New Jersey, California, Arizona, and Ontario accounted for two-thirds of Q4’11 demand.”
The Federal Cash Grant expiration in the U.S. drove a big end-of-year installation push. In total, the cash grant program stimulated approximately 1 GW worth of solar photovoltaic installations in the country.
Additionally, the California Solar Initiative (CSI) received an infusion of $200 million last quarter to keep its tremendous support for solar going.
Meanwhile, however, another top solar market in the U.S. (New Jersey) faces some uncertainty: “… continuation of New Jersey’s strong Q4’11 growth is under threat due to over-supply of Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SREC). Both New Jersey and Pennsylvania failed to enact legislation to fix the SREC over-supply by revising their RPS solar obligations.”
Utility and Non-Residential Growth to be Large
The U.S. is moving on a 25-GW non-residential and utility project pipeline, which will make 2012 a record-breaking year. After some delay for large-scale solar projects following the start of Canada’s relatively new feed-in tariff (FIT) program, it looks like these projects are nearing installation and many more will go up in 2012.
Residential Growth Likely to be Modest
With solar prices continuing to drop and the spread of popular solar leasing options, residential is projected to grow. But the fact that 5 states have already met their renewable power supply (RPS) targets will make that growth a bit more modest.
Of course, as always, there are plenty of uncertainties in the market that make projections nothing more than that.
“The key uncertainties on the rate of US demand growth in 2012 relate to the impact of the end of the Federal Cash Grant and approval timetables for large utility scale projects together with the market impact of states that have met their RPS,” said Junko Movellan, NPD Solarbuzz Senior Analyst.
“In 2011, the pace of market price reductions was accelerated by the growth in Chinese module supply. The uncertainty caused by the Chinese anti-dumping case started to reshape supply and pricing in Q4’11; the ruling will shape the 2H’12 supply mix.”
I'm the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular clean energy website in the world, and Planetsave, a leading green and science news site. I've been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and I've been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, bicycling, and wind energy for the past few years. You can also find my work on Scientific American, Reuters, Think Progress, GE's ecomagination site, several sites in the Important Media network, & many other places. To connect on some of your favorite social networks, go to zacharyshahan.com or click on some of the links below.