California is still the dominant market for solar. It’s the most populous state in the U.S. and one of the most forward looking. With some of the largest installations in the world, it’s likely to be the leader in the Western hemisphere for a while.
Beyond that it’s a swirl of change. New Jersey had been the second largest state solar for a long time and occasionally displaced California in terms of the number of new solar installations. But now North Carolina has supplanted New Jersey, according to NPD Solarbuzz’ most recent North America PV Markets Quarterly out yesterday (Jan. 8).
The report seems to affirm fears of New Jersey’s solar industry, which recently filed a $500 million suit against that state’s regulatory board over its interpretation of a new law. The industry contended that the inability to move forward on large solar projects that were in the works prior to interpretation of the law has cost millions and lost the state its leadership position.
“California was again the leading state in the U.S. for installed solar PV in 2013,” according to the report. “However, North Carolina was propelled into second place, due to strong utility-scale activity, overtaking both Arizona and New Jersey in the rankings. New Mexico and New York were new entrants, displacing Maryland and Colorado from the list.”
The report found that across the U.S. roughly 700 megawatts of new solar consisted of rooftop solar and other small solar installations. Those figures aren’t the same as those reported by the California Solar Energy Industries Association recently, which said that in 2013 California saw more than 1 gigawatt of newly installed distributed solar like rooftop solar, but they still show strong growth across the U.S. The NPD Solarbuzz report said that 2013 saw a 10 percent increase in the amount of new distributed solar installed in 2013 over 2012. It also found that more than three quarters of the small-scale solar demand was from the residential segment.
The solar industry continued to move forward as a whole in the U.S., throughout the final quarter of 2013 and the whole year. “Each year, the final quarter in the U.S. results in a new quarterly record for solar PV installed,” said Michael Barker, senior analyst at NPD Solarbuzz. “The solar PV industry in the U.S. is, on average, now installing more than one gigawatt of solar PV each quarter,” he said.
The report found that 4.2 gigawatts of solar was installed in the U.S. in 2013, which is largely inline with its projections from last June. It also stated that large-scale projects dominated the U.S. solar power market during 2013. These are projects like the 250 megawatt California Solar Valley Ranch which fully came online in 2013 (parts of it began operating in 2012). But large-scale projects also include projects as small as 5 megawatts. Overall these comprised more than 80 percent of the new solar capacity that came online last year, according to the report.Tweet