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US Solar PV Market Grew 76% in 2012

by Staff
Modern Power Systems, March 25, 2013

The US installed 3313 MW of solar photovoltaics in 2012

GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) have released the latest edition of their analysis of solar power markets in the USA 'Solar Market Insight: Year-in-Review 2012'.

After another record-breaking year, solar is the fastest growing energy source in the US. 'Insight' shows the US installed 3313 MW of solar photovoltaics in 2012, up by 76%, a record for the industry. Solar, says SEIA, is now a leading source of new electricity for America that is increasingly competitive with conventional electricity across dozens of states.

Although the cost of solar to consumers fell, the size of the market grew 34 % from $8.6 billion in 2011 to $11.5 billion in 2012. At the end of 2012, there was 7221 MW of PV and 546 MW of concentrating solar power (CSP) online in the USA.

2012 was also a year for records at state level. California became the first state to install over 1000 MW in one year, with growth across all market segments. Arizona came in as the second largest market, led by large-scale utility installations, while New Jersey experienced growth in the state's non-residential market.

The fourth quarter of 2012 also shattered all-time records, with 1300 MW of installed PV, beating the previous high by 64 %. The residential and utility segments had their best quarters ever, installing 144 MW and 874 MW respectively.

"2012 was a busy year in the U.S. solar market," said Shayle Kann, vice president at GTM Research. "The market value of U.S. solar installations reached $11.5 billion in 2012, up from just $3.6 billion in 2009. Amidst this boom, the industry faced newly-imposed import tariffs on Chinese solar cells and ongoing consolidation in manufacturing. In 2013, we expect another strong year, driven in part by new mechanisms to increase the availability, and lower the cost, of solar project financing."

SEIA and GTM Research expect residential solar to surge in 2013 and beyond, as third-party solar financing options spread across the country.

The non-residential segment, which includes commercial, governmental, and non-profit organisations, installed more than 1000 MW in 2012. Leading non-residential markets included California, New Jersey, Arizona, Massachusetts, and Hawaii.

Meanwhile, the utility market continues to be dominated by installations in the desert southwest. There were 152 utility solar installations in 2012, and eight of the ten largest projects currently in operation were completed in 2012. These installations represented 54% of total installed capacity, or 1782 MW.

"There were 16 million solar panels installed in the U.S. last year" said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA. "We've brought more new solar online in 2012 than in the three prior years combined.

Key findings

US Solar PV Market Grew 76% in 2012
Modern Power Systems, March 25, 2013

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