July 15, 2014 – The drivers of the booming U.S. solar installation market are addressed in a nationally recognized annual report on solar installation trends released today by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC).
The solar market, while relatively young, is an increasingly important and vital part of the American economy. What are the trends in this market, and what forces are at work? Which sectors of the market are strongest, and why? What are the prospects for solar energy in the near future?
The 2014 report answers these questions by providing public data on U.S. solar installations in 2013 by technology, state and solar market sectors. It offers insight on the major factors affecting the solar market, such as photovoltaic prices, strong consumer demand, available financing, renewable portfolio standards in some states, and financial incentives from the federal government, states and utilities. The report includes ranking of Top 10 States in several categories.
“Solar energy markets are booming in the United States due to falling photovoltaic (PV) prices, strong consumer demand, available financing, renewable portfolio standards (RPSs), and financial incentives from the federal government, states and utilities,” explains report author Larry Sherwood, vice president/COO of the the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). “Thirty-four percent more PV capacity was installed in 2013 than the year before,” he adds, “accounting for 31 percent of all U.S. electric power installations completed in 2013.”
Now in its seventh year, the report covers solar technologies that produce electricity, including PV and concentrating solar power (CSP).
Important Current Trends
- Installed prices for distributed PV installations fell by at least 11 percent in 2013 and have fallen by 44 percent since 2009. The prices of some individual system components, especially modules, have fallen even more. Lower prices increase consumer demand for solar installations.
- California was the most important market in 2013. Fifty-seven percent of U.S. capacity installed in 2013 occurred in the Golden State, and the capacity installed during 2013 was 161 percent greater than what was installed in 2012
- Residential capacity installed in 2013 grew by 68 percent in the U.S., fueled by the increasing use of leases and third-party ownership of these systems. Over 145,000 residential PV systems were installed during the year.
- Utility sector capacity installed grew by 47 percent. Ten PV installations, each larger than 100 MWDC, were completed in 2013.
- Hawaii had the highest per capita installed capacity of PV systems. More than 75 percent of grid-connected PV system capacity installed in 2013 was concentrated in California, Arizona and North Carolina.
Concentrated Solar Power:
- The most CSP capacity ever installed in the United States in a single year was in 2013. Three new CSP solar plants with a total capacity of 766 MWAC were completed, the first completed in the U.S. since 2010.
“Over the near term, the prospect for growth in solar installations is bright in all sectors,” Sherwood states in the report. “The residential sector is growing in a large number of states, and many utility sector projects are under construction or contracted and will be completed in 2014 or later. The federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) of 30 percent provides an important foundational incentive for most installations. The ITC, combined with continued falling prices, state RPSs, and on-going net metering policies will sustain the market.”