United States Joins Elite
Nearly half of U.S. solar capacity is in the western states, with almost 40 percent in California.
The United States has become the fourth country in the world to break through the 10 gigawatt (GW) barrier for solar PV capacity, after installing more than 1.8 GW in the first half of the year.
According to the North America PV Market Quarterly, produced by analysts at NPD Solarbuzz, the U.S. has joined Germany, Italy and China as the only countries to have installed more than 10 GW.
The report predicted recent rapid growth in the U.S. solar sector is now set to continue with the country likely to have installed more than 17 GW by the end of 2014.
Nearly half of U.S. solar capacity is in the western states, with almost 40 percent in California. The remainder is split across the Mid-Atlantic, Southwest, Southeast, the Rocky Mountains, Plains and Great Lakes, with a small proportion in New England.
The report said the solar surge had been driven by falling prices of modules from around $6 per watt in 2011 to about $4.25 per watt for domestic scale projects and $3 per watt for large utility scale projects today.
"U.S. solar PV market growth has been stimulated by an increased range of solar incentive programs at the state level," said Christopher Sunsong, analyst at NPD Solarbuzz. "While the Far West and Mid-Atlantic states dominate the 10 GW installed, the Southwest and Southeast regions have recently made strong contributions. Other regions, however, such as the Great Plains and Great Lakes, remain largely undeveloped, creating further market upside going forward."
The combination of falling prices and access to regions with high levels of sunshine means that experts now regard solar as cost competitive with grid power in some parts of the country.
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