Large Scale Solar PV Projects At Risk, While California Powers On

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The US solar PV pipeline has been standing on shaky ground for the past few months as trade investigations put a dampener on a number of projects relying on Chinese manufacturers. NPD Solarbuzz, working from their United States Deal Tracker, have pinpointed those sectors of the industry most likely to be affected by the trade disputes.

The findings could be defined as somewhat obvious. Writing on the NPD Solarbuzz blog, Christine Beadle, an analyst with the market research firm, highlighted both the small-scale and large-scale project sectors as being potentially affected by the anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations.

According to Beadle, the sector with the largest number of projects potentially affected by the trade disputes is the small-scale sector — with the 1-5 MW and 250-500 kW system size ranges containing 59% of the affected projects.

However, as Beadle explains, “most of the potentially affected capacity is in the large-scale ranges, greater than 20 MW” — which is obvious because by their very nature, the larger-scale projects contain higher capacity.

solar scale
System size range of trade-affected US PV project pipeline.
Image Credit: NPD Solarbuzz

The conclusion? The entire solar industry is suffering, because whether you’re a small-scale project supplier or you’re looking to outfit a utility-scale project, you all need the same product that has been seized on by the US Department of Commerce. Welcome to the world of market research, where sometimes the blindingly obvious will make for news.

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However, in a separate blog post, again referencing the latest United States Deal Tracker numbers, Beadle delivers good news for Californians, who are once again residents of the state with the most dominant solar PV project pipeline — dominant to a factor of five!

Top 8 States by Megawatt Project Pipeline Capacity
Image Credit: NPD Solarbuzz

According to the numbers, California alone accounts for 48% of the total capacity in the country, and 30% of the total number of projects. As can be seen in the figure above, the next closest states are Nevada, North Carolina, and Arizona, each of which are apparently being driven primarily by large-scale ground-mount projects of varying sizes.

Even swapping it around to highlight the number of projects rather than sheer capacity, California still outstrips the nearest competitors, New Jersey and Massachusetts. These two markets are benefiting from an increasingly popular roof-mount systems which pushes up the number of projects while keeping the capacity at a lower level.

California 2
Top 8 States by Number of Pipeline Projects
Image Credit: NPD Solarbuzz

Beadle praises the US market though, noting that its “downstream diversity … is one of its strengths; as it allows different customer and application segments opportunities to grow in a variety of regions within the greatest US market.”

When discussing the US market, a common phrase is ‘there is no US market; there are 50 state-level markets with a layer of federal policy on top’.

So while the future state of the US solar PV market is looking somewhat shaky, their existing success and the diversity that makes the US market so singular are likely to help it weather this particular time of market unease.

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Joshua S Hill

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (, and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at for more.

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