GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) released U.S. Solar Market Insight: Year-in-Review 2012, an analysis of solar power markets in the United States.
With another record-breaking year, solar is the fastest growing energy source in the country, powering homes, businesses and utility grids across the nation. The Solar Market Insight annual edition shows the United States installed 3,313 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaics (PV) in 2012, a record for the industry. Perhaps most importantly, clean, reliable, affordable solar is continuing a major growth pattern that has made it a leading source of new electricity for America that’s increasingly competitive with conventional electricity across dozens of states today.
Even with the cost of solar falling for consumers, the market size of the U.S. solar industry grew 34% from $8.6 billion in 2011 to $11.5 billion in 2012 — not counting billions of dollars in other economic benefits across states and communities. As of the end of 2012, there were 7,221 MW of PV and 546 MW of concentrating solar power (CSP) online in the United States, enough to power 1.2 million homes.
At the state level, 2012 was another year for breaking records. California became the first state to install over 1,000 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 Top 10 largest state solar markets based on megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaics (PV) installed in 2012 were:
1. California, 1,033
2. Arizona, 710
3. New Jersey, 415
4. Nevada, 198
5. North Carolina, 132
6. Massachusetts, 129
7. Hawaii, 109
8. Maryland, 74
9. Texas, 64
10. New York, 60
In addition to record annual installations, the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2012 shattered all-time quarterly records as well, with 1,300 MW of installed PV, besting the previous high by 64%. The residential and utility segments had their best quarters ever, installing 144 MW and 874 MW respectively.
The residential market saw meaningful growth in California, Arizona, Hawaii, Massachusetts and New York, as average residential system prices dropped nearly 20 percent in one year — from $6.16 per watt in Q4 2011 to $5.04 per watt in Q4 2012. 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 systems, installed more than 1,000 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 1,782 MW.
SEIA and GTM Research expect the growth to continue into 2013 and beyond. For this year, the report forecasts 4,300 MW of new PV installations, up 29 percent over 2012, and 946 MW of concentrating solar power. Over the next four years, the residential and non-residential markets are expected to gain market share as system prices decline, the industry becomes even more efficient, and new financing channels arise.