California has long been the nation’s largest market for solar. But this past quarter, the state really blew the rest of the nation away, installing 53 percent of the 976 megawatts of photovoltaics (PV) installed in the U.S. during the quarter.
“In Q2’13, new PV installed in California alone reached 521 MW, which is a new record for PV added by any state in the U.S. for a three-month period and 53 percent of PV added in the U.S.,” said NPD Solarbuzz Vice PResident Finlay Colville. It’s a record in a bigger record-breaking year for U.S. solar. NPD anticipates that the U.S. will install 4.2 gigawatts of PV this year—down slightly from a previous estimate of 4.3 gigawatts. That will easily surpass the previous record set last year of 3.3 gigawatts of new PV installed, according to the GTM Research and Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) U.S. Solar Market Insight: Year-in-Review 2012.
The 976 MWs of new photovoltaic capacity installed during the second quarter of 2013 was up 24 percent from 788 MWs in the previous quarter, according to NPD Solarbuzz’ most recent North America PV Markets Quarterly report.
Across the U.S., the majority (72 percent) of PV installations were ground mounted while 28 percent of new installations were on residential and commercial rooftops. However, 41 percent of the installations were residential or commercial installations. This reveals that some of the commercial and perhaps even some of the residential PV projects installed were ground-mounted.
Still, California stands out in the most recent quarter, if not the entire year. “California has added 1.6 GW in the past 12 months, with a further 1.1 GW forecast for the second half of the year,” Colville said. That’s more than the SEIA report said the state installed in all of 2012. The report observed that the 250 MW California Valley Solar Ranch, the third phase of the 550 MW Topaz Solar farm, the second phase of the 230 MW Antelope Valley Solar Ranch, and the Gates Solar Farm were all completed in California during the second quarter.
Two other large projects outside of California—the Agua Caliente plant and the first phase of Copper Mountain Solar 2 in Arizona—came online in the second quarter as well. While Arizona also is an established solar market, other state markets are showing significant growth as well. “North Carolina is forecast to grow by 80 percent year-over-year in 2013 to reach 285 MW, with further growth of 30 percent in 2014, the report said. It added that North Carolina solar installer Strata Solar alone completed almost 100 MWs of projects during the twelve-month period ending in June 2013.
NPD Solarbuzz is predicting more growth in the U.S. market throughout the rest of 2013 as well. “Solar PV demand in the U.S. is forecast to grow 14 percent quarter over quarter to 1.04 GW in Q3’13,” it said. In the second half of the year it anticipates that together Arizona and North Carolina will add 400 MWs and New Jersey, New Mexico, New York,and Texas, will add 500 MWs. On a yearly basis, it anticipates that the market will grow 17 percent to 4.22 gigawatts of PV, not including the giant concentrated solar power plants that are also slated to come online this year.
Looking further ahead, NPD expects the U.S. solar industry to install 5.3 gigawatts of PV in 2014—roughly 20 percent of global PV demand for the year. In fact, the U.S. pipeline of commercial and utility projects now exceeds 44 GW, NPD said, bolstering its projections.