Solar Market Spikes

According to the “U.S. Solar Market Insight: 2nd Quarter 2012” report from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the solar industry achieved its second best quarter ever. In the second quarter of this year, 742 megawatts of solar power was installed. The utility market hit 477 megawatts during the same timeframe with eight states now having installed 10 megawatts or more of solar energy: California, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, Illinois, North Carolina, New Mexico, and New Jersey. In total, the U.S. now has 5,700 megawatts of installed solar capacity, enough to power more than 940,000 households.

The report concludes the utility photovoltaic (PV) market will remain strong through the last two quarters of 2012. There are 3400 megawatts of utility PV projects currently under construction. The study forecasts an additional 1.1 gigawatts of utility PV could begin operation before the end of this year. By the end of 2012, nearly 3.2 gigawatts of PV will be installed, a 71 percent increase over 2011.

“The U.S. solar industry is rapidly growing and creating jobs across America despite the slow economic recovery,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA. “More solar was installed in the U.S. this quarter than in all of 2009, led for the first time by record-setting utility-scale projects. With costs continuing to come down, solar is affordable today for more homes, businesses, utilities, and the military. Smart, consistent, long-term policy is driving the innovation and investment that’s making solar a larger share of our overall energy mix.”

The U.S. residential solar market has grown over the past four consecutive quarters with 98.2 megawatts installed. California, Arizona and New Jersey led the way while smaller markets also showed strong gains including Hawaii, Massachusetts and Maryland. Another area that has gained momentum is third-party solar ownership models. In California, Arizona and Colorado, this model accounted for more than 70 percent of total Q2 2012 installments.

Shayle Kann, vice president of research at GTM Research added, “We’re starting to see innovative PV business models take a substantial hold in the U.S. residential market. The success of third-party residential solar providers has attracted more than $600 million in new investments in recent months. This influx of cash into the residential space signifies the growing acceptance of solar leases and power purchase agreements as a secure investment for project investors. We expect that third-party installations will claim even more market share in the coming quarters.”