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72% Of US 2014 Residential Solar Is Third-Party Owned

New figures from GTM Research have revealed that, of the 1.2 gigawatts of residential solar installed in the US in 2014, 72% was third-party owned.

GTM Research’s latest report, US Residential Solar Financing 2015–2020explored the current and future residential solar market. The US residential solar market has grown 15 out of the last 17 quarters, saw more than 50% growth in 2014, and outperformed and out-installed the non-residential solar market for the first time.

According to GTM Research, this exceptional performance is at least in part due to the “rapid growth [that] can largely be attributed to the widespread availability and increasing diversity of financing solutions.”

However, the most important takeaway from the report was the figures showing that 72% of US residential solar capacity installed in 2014 was third-party owned — which includes residential solar installed through leases and by way of power purchase agreements (PPAs).

Residential Third-Party Ownership Penetration and Installations by Ownership Type


GTM Research links this increase in third-party ownership to the “rapid growth” of financing solutions like leases which, having become increasingly popular over the last few years, “have given customers across many demographics and socioeconomic categories the ability to afford a solar installation.”

Of the companies that are providing these services, GTM Research found that three companies financed 56% of all US residential solar installations throughout 2014.

Leading U.S. Residential Solar Financiers, 2014


SolarCity (without surprise) led the way with 34%, followed back a bit by Vivint Solar with 12%, and Sunrun with 10%. The remaining providers included SunPower, NRG Home Solar, Sunnova, and Clean Power Finance.

However, GTM Research does not expect this trend of third-party ownership to continue for long. GTM Research forecasts that, by 2020, direct ownership of residential solar will surpass third-party ownership in the US residential solar market, accounting for 54% of the forecasted 52 GW.

“The solar loan market has exploded,” said Senior Solar Analyst Nicole Litvak. “Every TPO financier has introduced or is planning to introduce a loan, and an entirely separate group of pure-play loan providers has emerged. Many of these new loans are structured such that they offer customers the same year-one savings as a lease or PPA.”

Information and images provided by GTM Research via email

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