America’s solar market has broken through the clouds to shine as only the fourth nation to pass the 10 gigawatts (GW) installed solar capacity milestone.
Fast-growing solar photovoltaic (PV) deployment levels since 2010 pushed the US into the ultra-exclusive 10 GW club, reports NPD Solarbuzz in the latest North America PV Market Quarterly report.
“The US has now joined an elite group of maturing solar PV markets,” said Christopher Sunsong of NPD Solarbuzz. “Only Germany, Italy, and China have more installed PV capacity than the US.”
Solar Growing Fast With No Slowdown In Sight
Solar PV has become one of America’s fastest-growing energy sources in recent years. NPD reports the solar PV market has expanded at a compound annual growth rate of 50% since 2007, and 83% of the 10 GW capacity was installed within the past 14 quarters. During the first half of 2013, more than 1.8 GW of new solar PV capacity was installed in the US.
But instead of peaking, NPD predicts installations will accelerate over the next 18 months. Cumulative solar PV installations are forecast to grow an additional 80% by the end of 2014, putting the US on track to pass 17 GW installed solar PV capacity.
This dramatic growth is attributed to the drastic decline of solar system prices that began in 2011. The average cost of an installed system has fallen from $6 per watt in 2011 to $4.25 per watt residential and $3 per watt utility-scale solar PV projects today.
Utility-Scale Projects, State Incentives Driving The Market
In fact, the low cost of utility-scale installations have dominated the market, with these projects representing at least 45% of US installations. NPD’s analysis finds almost 1,400 solar PV installations of 500 kilowatts (kW) or larger in 39 different states provide 5.4 GW of capacity – with 40% in California alone.
While falling costs have spurred the market boom, state-level incentive programs have largely dictated where growth has occurred on a regional basis and hold promise for an even brighter solar future.
“While the Far West and Mid-Atlantic states dominate the 10 GW installed, the Southwest and Southeast regions have recently made strong contributions,” continued Sunsong. “Other regions, such as the Great Plains and Great Lakes, remain largely undeveloped, creating future market upside.”
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