SolarCity took 32% of the US Residential PV installation market in the third quarter of 2013, as utilities continue to squirm over solar power’s disruptive energy potential.
According to GTM Reasearch, the solar giant had four times the market share of its closet rival, Vivint.
Besides Vivint, rounding out the top five in the third quarter were Verengo, REC Solar, and Real Goods Solar.
“In addition to a steadily growing market share, the company (SolarCity) made a bevy of moves over the course of the year, ranging from the first securitized distributed solar deal to the acquisitions of Paramount Solar and Zep Solar,” said GTM Research Senior Vice President Shayle Kann. “SolarCity’s 2014 guidance suggests another rapid year of growth, barring bottlenecks in component costs, project finance or regulation.”
Unique sales ventures with Honda, Viridian Energy, and Home Depot helped to boost its market share, attracting a new base of customers, noted solar analyst Nicole Litvak.
“The installer has been quick to enter and dominate new residential growth markets such as New York and Connecticut,” she said.
However, while SolarCity did dominate the overall US residential PV market, other companies have been able to get some market share in other states. Roof Diagnostics and Trinity Solar Power topped SolarCity in New Jersey for the 2013 third quarter. Meanwhile, Vivant lead Massachusetts installations during all of 2013.
The debate centers on net metering, which requires utility companies to credit customers for solar energy that they generate in excess of their own usage. The credits were part of financial incentives to invest in solar energy.
Policies for net metering, which is used in 43 states, vary from state to state, but most credits are set at the local retail price for electricity. That bothers utilities, which contend that the retail price is set too high, resulting in excessive credits to solar users. Utilities want credits set by wholesale prices, which are much lower than retail.
As some utilities will seek to have rules change back to favor them, SolarCity’ and other pv installers success should continue to remind utilities about the role disruptive technologies play on industries. As seen with the Internet constantly changing cable and telephone companies business models, this year may will see ongoing saga of how solar energy will change power utility models as well.
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