Clean Power new us solar pv us

Published on June 14th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan


Solar in the US: Policy & Promise (+ 9 More Solar Charts & Images)

June 14th, 2012 by  

I was on a conference call yesterday with Tom Kimbis, Vice President of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), and Shayle Kann, Vice President of Research at GTM Research. The conference call was for the announcement of the latest US Solar Market Insight report (for Q1 2012), which Josh had a great summary of earlier this morning (link above). Luckily, I got to ask the last several questions in the Q&A period at the end (you can listen to the whole conference call here). Adding on to Josh’s summary, I just thought I’d add on some things I learned from those extra questions, as well as a few more key facts and graphs.

First, here are some more key stats and graphs, not included in Josh’s piece, that I think are worth a share:

  • We now have enough solar power capacity in the US to power 775,000 households!
  • The 2012 solar PV installation capacity projections (which Josh noted are 75% above last year’s total) are now actually 15% higher than previous annual forecasts for 2012 — in other words, while many viewed previous SEIA projections as ambitious, those early projections were actually lower than the latest, most informed projections!
  • “The increase in forecasted installations for 2012 is due to accelerated timelines for large-scale utility projects, greater-than-expected first quarter growth in the New Jersey commercial market, the number of safe-harbored projects that will still qualify for the U.S. government’s expired 1603 Treasury Program, and overall positive outlooks for the California, Massachusetts, and Hawaii markets.”
  • While solar installations were way up in Q1 2012 compared to Q2 2011, US solar panel production was way down. “While the demand for solar energy in the U.S. grows, and the cost of solar falls, U.S. solar panel manufacturers continue to face increased global competition and uncertainty surrounding global trade disputes. In Q1 2012, U.S. solar panel production amounted to just 160 MW compared to 335 megawatts in Q1 2011.”
  • “Installed prices fell in every market segment year-over-year compared to Q1 2011…. Residential installed prices fell 7.3 percent, commercial installed prices fell 11.5 percent, and utility prices fell 24.7 percent over Q1 2011…. The overall blended average installed price fell 17.2 percent year-over-year.”

Illustrating some of those points above, below are nine nice charts and images.

Current Solar Installation Project for 2012:

Preliminary Solar Installation Projections to 2016:

Installed Solar Price Drops (by Segment & as a Whole):

Solar Component Price Drops:

Quarter-by-Quarter Solar Installations by Market Segment:

Top Solar Installation States (with Segmentation):

US Solar Jobs & Value of Solar Installations:

Where US Solar Jobs Are (i.e. Almost Everywhere):


US Solar Policy:

Now, let’s get to the topics I asked about in the Q&A section. I asked about 3 things: PACE financing, solar leasing, and reliance on federal solar policies based on the tax equity market. Here’s what I learned:

PACE Financing

SEIA isn’t very involved, currently, in getting PACE financing going on local levels (e.g. cities and states). It seems to be working a bit with important federal agencies that were largely responsible for stalling/stopping PACE financing across the nation. However, the answer didn’t give me much hope that we’re going to see a PACE renaissance any time soon.

Solar Leasing & PPAs

Shayle reiterated and emphasized my initial point that the biggest trend in the residential solar market in the past couple years has been 3rd-party financing and 3rd-party ownership of solar projects through solar leases and PPAs. He then went on to note that the model has been growing “extremely rapidly” and has grown from just a few companies to at least 16, with the initial few companies greatly expanding their range as well. Basically, anywhere it’s introduced, it is doing very well. He expects to see fast growth through solar leasing and PPAs as such options become available in more and more places (they’re currently only available in a handful of states).

Federal Solar Policies Not Relying on the Tax Equity Market

John Farrell’s recent post highlighting the massive imbalance in supply and demand for tax equity financing for solar projects (what current federal policy is based on) was in my head at the end of the conference call, since the point is that there’s a lot more solar financing demand than supply in the tax equity market. So, I asked about the possibility of moving to federal policies that didn’t rely so much on the tax equity market.

Tom noted that there’s a new assistant secretary of energy in the federal government, Dr. David Danielson, who is “very focused on alternative financing mechanisms for renewable energy” and that he “understands very well what’s going on in the tax and equity markets, and where there could be potential shortages currently and going forward.” Basically, it sounds like he is looking into developing ways the federal government can provide the support for important alternative financing mechanisms. Sounds good.

Sources: SEIA; SEIA; SEIA 
Get CleanTechnica’s 1st (completely free) electric car report → “Electric Cars: What Early Adopters & First Followers Want.”
Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) one letter at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor. Otherwise, he's probably enthusiastically fulfilling his duties as the director/editor of EV Obsession, Gas2, Solar Love, Planetsave, or Bikocity; or as president of Important Media. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, energy storage, and wind energy expert. If you would like him to speak at a related conference or event, connect with him via social media:, .

Back to Top ↑
  • Advertisements

  • Top Posts & Pages

  • Cool Cleantech Events

    Low Voltage Electrification Event, April 25-27. Detroit, Michigan (US)
    Delve deep into the benefits and challenges associated with EV power supply.

    Offshore Wind Market Development USA, May 11-12, Boston, Massachusetts (US)
    Network and establish your business in one of North America’s largest energy industries.

    Energy Storage USA, June 15-16, San Diego, California (US)
    Only event in the United States focused exclusively on the commercialization of storage.

    More details are on: Cleantech Events.

  • Advertisement

  • CleanTechnica Electric Car Report

    Electric Cars Early Adopters First Followers
  • Tesla Model 3 Review by EVANNEX

    Tesla Model 3 Review from EVANNEX
  • Tesla Model 3 Exclusive Video

    Tesla Model 3 Video
  • Tesla Model 3 Exclusive Pictures

    Tesla Model 3 Video
  • Tesla Model X Review #1 (Video)

    Tesla Model X Review from new owners Zach Shahan
  • Tesla Model X Review #2 (Pictures)

    Tesla Model X Review from Kyle Field
  • Tesla Model S Long-Term Review

    Tesla Model S Long Term Review from Kyle Field
  • Nissan LEAF Long-Term Review

    Nissan LEAF Long Term Review from Cynthia Shahan
  • Interview with Michael Liebreich

    Interview with Michael Liebreich
  • Interview with Akon (Teslas & Solar)

    Interview with Akon Tesla Model S Tesla Model X Solar Power Africa
  • Interview with Dr Nawal Al-Hosany

    Interview with Dr Nawal Al-Hosany
  • Interview with Gro Brundtland

    Gro Brundtland
  • Interview with President of Iceland

    President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson
  • Interview with Nick Sampson

    Faraday Future VP Nick Sampson
  • Interview with Dipal Barua

    Dipal Barua 1st ZFEP WInner
  • Interview with Jonathon Porritt

    Jonathon Porritt
  • Interview with Clint Wilder

    Interview with Clint Wilder
  • Interviews with Solar Impulse Pilots

    Bertrand Piccard Andre Borschberg
  • Check out more CleanTechnica Videos.

  • Join The Solar Revolution!

    Edison-solar-energy solar-energy-spill-nice-day
  • Cost of Solar Panels

  • Search the IM Network