Last July the U.S. surpassed an important threshold in installed solar photovoltaics with 10 gigawatts of PV online. Overall it was a record year for solar with nearly 5 new gigawatts of PV alone more installed in the U.S. and even more solar installed when you consider concentrating solar power (CSP) projects that came online last year. By the end of the year fully 13 gigawatts of PV were online.
That’s all good but this year is expected to blow that out of the water as the U.S. hits 20 gigawatts of installed PV. That’s according to a new post from NPD Solarbuzz Analyst Michael Barker. Moreover, he wrote: “Cumulative solar photovoltaic (PV) installations in the United States hit the 10 GW level in mid-2013 and are on course to double by early 2015, approaching the 20 GW figure by the end of 2014.” He added that if expectations are true, the solar industry will have enjoyed a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) above 50 percent since 2006, few other industries save perhaps smartphones can claim such rapid growth during the same period.
In his post Barker attributed the explosion in installations to a number of factors. Chief among them are the continued cost declines in solar panel prices. But another emerging factor in the U.S. is the push to complete PV projects before the 33 percent Investment Tax Credit expires in 2016.
“On the global level, stabilizing component prices (and the knowledge that policy support is decreasing over time) means that downstream players are eager to move projects forward rapidly, rather than wait for further cost declines or new support mechanisms,” Barker said.
Another positive of the U.S. solar industry, according to Barker, is the continued flow of new capital to support PV projects as well as newer business models, like third-party ownership options that are making solar more competitive with other energy sources. “With solar PV systems being recognized as a source of (relatively) low-risk long-term revenues, this asset class is proving increasingly attractive for installers and utility companies, as well as institutional investors and private owners/municipalities,” Barker said.
While things look good in the near-term, Barker cautioned that challenges to renewable portfolio standards and net-metering programs could hamper growth in the industry. “If state-level policies were dramatically scaled-back, or the supply of PV modules was severely restricted, this could prompt a decline in demand or an increase in pricing,” he said.
Another factor could be if the government imposes more sanctions on PV imports from China of Taiwan. “Any change on the trade cases could have a much quicker – and countrywide – impact,” he said.Tweet