The US solar photovoltaic (PV) industry just keeps shining, with rising demand across the country pushing installed capacity in second quarter (2Q) 2013 up 24% compared to first quarter (1Q) 2013.
America added 976 megawatts (MW) of new solar PV capacity in 2Q 2013, according to the NPD Solarbuzz North America PV Markets Quarterly report.
Solar PV demand is expected to continue growing through 2013, but roughly 75% of this new capacity is concentrated in just five states – evidence of the impact smart state policy can have on renewable energy.
The 976MW of new solar PV capacity installed across the country in 2Q could power US solar markets toward a supercharged 2013. 2Q’s installed capacity was 24% higher than 1Q’s 788MW. Utilities led the way with 59% of all projects, and 72% were ground-mounted systems concentrated mainly in several large-scale projects across the Western US.
NPD Solarbuzz predicts solar PV demand will grow 14% to 1.04GW in third quarter (3Q) 2013 en route to an 17% annual increase in PV demand across the US compared to 2012, for a total of 4.22GW new annual installed capacity.
That’s an impressive amount, no doubt, but the best may still be yet to come. An estimated 44GW of commercial and utility projects are in the development pipeline, including 2,300 projects of 50 kilowatts and higher – with more than half of those on commercial locations. At this rate, NPD Solarbuzz predicts the US will be home to 20% of total global solar PV demand within five years.
Growth Concentrated In Just A Few States
But even though the American solar industry’s outlook is brighter than ever, the resulting growth is shining squarely on just a handful of states. California represented a whopping 53% of all 2Q solar PV capacity addition, reaffirming its position as the “epicenter of the US clean tech market.”
“California alone reached 521MW, which is a new record for PV added by any state in the US for a three-month period,” said Finlay Colvile of NPD Solarbuzz. “California has added 1.6GW in the past 12 months, with a further 1.1GW forecast for the second half of the year.”
North Carolina, which has fought against efforts to roll back the state renewable energy standard, ranked second with 8% of all 2Q additions. 285MW of new solar PV capacity will come online in the state over 2013, an 80% increase compared to 2012, and demand is forecast to grow an additional 30% in 2014.
New Jersey, which recently became the third state to pass 1GW installed solar, followed close behind at 7%. Arizona and Texas rounded out the top five at 6% and 4% respectively, while eight other states combined for 28% of all remaining solar PV capacity additions.
How Hot Will Solar PV’s Future Get?
The NPD Solarbuzz report once again illuminates the economic and environmental benefits that renewables can create when governments set and maintain progressive policies. America’s solar surge has already pushed it into the ultra-exclusive 10GW installed solar PV club, and it’s helping power green jobs growth across the country.
Falling costs have been the main driver of demand, but state incentives and regulations have remained a steadying hand and dictated where growth has occurred. Consumers could save $20 billion annually by 2050 if solar continues to grow, and every single state in America has the potential to generate more electricity from solar energy than it uses in a single year. Here’s hoping more states will see the light.