According to the new NPD Solarbuzz report "North America PV Market Quarterly," the U.S. has now managed to inch beyond the 10 GW of installed PV capacity mark. "The US has now joined an elite group of maturing solar PV markets that have accumulated more than 10 GW of installed capacity," stated Christopher Sunsong, analyst at NPD Solarbuzz.
So far, only Germany, Italy, and China have more installed PV capacity than the U.S. according to Sunsong. He added, "The U.S. is only the fourth country to reach the 10 GW milestone of installed PV capacity."
Far West and Mid-Atalantic dominate
The Far West, which includes states like Arizona and Nevada, have the highest PV capacity in terms of regional distribution of the first 10 GW in the U.S. The Mid-Atlantic comes in second, followed by the Southwest.
"U.S. solar PV market growth has been stimulated by an increased range of solar incentive programs at the state level," added Sunsong. "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."
Solar PV has grown at a compound annual rate of more than 50% since 2007 in the U.S. and the cumulative solar PV installations are forecast to increase by an additional 80% in the next 18 months. The 17 GW mark is expected to be surpassed by end of 2014.
The solar system price declines have boosted the uptake of PV in the country. Average installed system prices have declined from about US$6 per watt two years ago to the current $4.25 per watt for residential and $3 per watt for large-scale utility PV projects, as NPD Solarbuzz stated.
Developers completed 83% of the 10 GW within the last 3 1/2 years. Some 1,400 PV installations of more than 500 kW in 39 states are generating 5.4 GW of capacity. California accounts for 40% of that capacity.