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Solar Installations in California Continue to Exceed Expectations

According to the LA Times, California is now equipped to produce 1,629 megawatts (MW) of solar power from 168,000 locations. Solar installations in California grew by 26% in 2012 from the previous year, according to a report by the Public Utilities Commission. A record-setting 391 MWs of solar power were installed in 2012, which made it the biggest year ever for rooftop solar installations.

California’s photovoltaic (PV) market has seen continued growth amidst the dwindling incentives offered by the California Solar Initiative. Q2 2013, ranks as the strongest second quarter in the state’s history, with installations up 78% in the residential market and 26% in the non-residential market year-over-year.

California’s solar market is the fourth most expensive in the U.S. for systems smaller than 10 kilowatts (kW), which represents all of the residential market and a majority of the commercial market as well.

The current U.S Solar Market at a glance

The recent Q2 report released by SEIA and GTM Research, forecasts a renewal of PV growth in the second half of 2013. Cumulative operating PV capacity in the U.S. now stands at 8,858 MW. PV installations totaled 832 MW in Q2 2013, up 15% over Q1 2013.
According to Shayle Kann, the vice President at GTM Research, the Q2’13 report shows that the solar market, despite experiencing continual growth, is beginning to stabilize in the U.S. Kann expressed that the solar market will not likely see the extreme growth spurts, it has been experiencing in the last few years.

Edison Electric Institute explains that solar is now “in the market” for 16 % of U.S. retail electricity sales, and has the potential to double by 2017, allowing solar to compete for $170 billion of annual utility revenue.

In the commercial PV market, only 13 out of the 28 states tracked in the report experienced quarterly growth. The non-residential market was down in Q2, continuing a relatively light year for the commercial segment.

The utility sector added 452MW of PV installations, a jump of 42% over last quarter while the residential market broke its streak of incremental quarterly growth with a flat quarter. According to the Q2’13 Market Insight Repot, there were 38 individual utility PV projects completed in Q2 2013, totaling 452 MW of new installed generating capacity. All ten of the largest projects completed were installed in the states of California and Arizona. Meanwhile, the utility PV pipeline grew marginally in Q2, reaching 12.1 GW of projects with power purchase agreements (PPAs) in place and 4.1 GW of projects currently under construction.

Solar Market Forecasts:

According to GTM Research and the SEIA’s insight report, Q2 2013 was somewhat softer than expected, but preliminary data suggests that Q3 will be considerably stronger, with the hopes of bringing the U.S. global solar shares of installations to a high of 13%, compared to the 8% in 2008.

The report stated that 4.4 GW of PV is expected to come online in 2013, compared to the 3.3 GWs in 2012. Research from the Solar Market Insight Report 2013 Q2, also predicts that worldwide installations of PV energy storage systems for commercial use will grow to 2.3 GW in 2017. The commercial sector’s share of global PV installations will also experience an extensive jump, from 5% in 2012 to 40% in 2017, the report stated.

In the IHS Electronics & Media’s report, The Role of Energy Storage in the PV Industry 2013 World Edition, it can be forecasted that North America will emerge as the world leader in commercial PV energy storage, with more than 40% of global installations in 2017.

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