Graph of the Day: The big solar boom in the US

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The US solar PV market is likely to top 5,000MW in 2014 – mostly through utility-scale installations. In Australia, it’s all about rooftops.

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This chart of the day comes from NPD SolarBuzz, the California-based solar market analysts that released its quarterly North America market report overnight.

The big picture from the report was that the US market is likely to top 4,300MW in 2013 and will likely better 5,000MW in 2014. That’s compared to the Australian market which is likely to remain under 1,000MW for this and next year, and the Japanese market, which could top 9,000MW in 2014 to be the world’s biggest – depending on what happens in China.

NPD SolarBuzz said demand in the US is likely to reach 1GW in the June quarter, with more than  70 per cent coming from California, Arizona, New Jersey, and North Carolina as this graph shows.

Screen Shot 2013-06-04 at 10.16.34 AM

Interestingly for Australian readers, residential and small commercial rooftop PV installations will account for 18 per cent of this demand, with another 14 per cent from large commercial rooftops. In Australia, residential installations account for more than 90 per cent of the market, with the rest made up of commercial installations.

The utility-dominated ground-mount segment will account for the remaining 68 per cent of new PV demand in the US this quarter. That compares to Australia, where utility ground mounted market will likely account for a big fat zero.

The NPD SolarBuzz report said that the large utility-based solar PV projects in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas will drive US demand above 2.5 GW during the second half of 2013. Strong year-end contributions will also come from Hawaii, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, and Ohio.

“The strong commercial and utility-based solar PV being deployed in the US is stimulated by state specific mandates that require solar to meet target levels, or carve-outs, of total energy production,” explained Chris Sunsong, analyst at NPD Solarbuzz. “Meanwhile, residential demand is being driven by new third-party ownership models that allow homeowners and businesses to install PV systems with minimal upfront commitments.”

The report notes that new solar PV incentive policies and additional utility-scale projects are also starting to diversify PV demand across a greater number of states within the US, moving away from the traditional strongholds limited to the East and West Coasts. Six of the ten fastest-growing US states for solar PV demand in 2013 are located in the South or the Midwest, providing annual growth rates averaging above 180 per cent.

However, it says sustaining the multi-GW opportunity for solar PV in the US remains heavily dependent on strong PV demand from a small group of states. Just nine states will account for more than 85 per cent of all US solar PV demand in 2013. As a result, NPD SolarBuzz says the US solar PV market remains highly vulnerable to any abrupt policy changes in the leading US PV states.

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