US to supply 20% of global solar demand to 2018

Market forecaster NPD Solarbuzz is predicting the U.S. will supply 20% of global solar demand over the next five years.

With the solar consultancy estimating there are more than 2,300 utility and commercial scale solar projects of 50 kW and above in a U.S. pipeline of more than 44 GW, NPD Solarbuzz is predicting demand which is expected to rise 17% on 2012 this year to continue booming to 5.3 GW next year.

Unsurprisingly California is again the poster boy state in the consultant’s latest North America PV Markets Quarterly report and the extent of the U.S. solar renaissance is demonstrated by the fact California set a state three-month record by adding 521 MW of solar from April to June, amounting to 53% of the 976 MW of new PV in the U.S.

NPD Solarbuzz vice president Finlay Colville says California has added 1.6 GW in the last 12 months and will add a further 1.1 GW between July and the end of the year.

Away from other established markets in Arizona, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Texas, North Carolina is emerging as a fertile state for the renewable energy with demand rising 80% this year on last year’s figures to 285 MW and predicted to rise a further 30% next year.

Strata Solar is leading the way in the state, having installed almost 100 MW of new PV in the year to July.

Ground mount leads the way

Large scale ground mount projects accounted for 72% of U.S. installations in the third quarter with Pacific Gas and Electric installing significant generation at the California Valley Solar Ranch, phase two of Antelope Valley, phase three of Topaz Solar and at Gates Solar Farm – all in California – and at phase one of the Copper Mountain Solar 2 scheme in Arizona. Ariizon Public Service’s Agua Caliente scheme was another significant ground mount and among the 59% of new solar in the quarter developed by utilities.

The California surge is expected to take a back seat in the 1.04 GW of solar expected to be installed from July to September with Arizona and North Carolina supplying 400 MW and a further 500 MW spread across New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Texas.

Among module suppliers, First Solar was top dog with 22% of the market from September to March, ahead of U.S. rival Sunpower which boasted 12%.

Chinese suppliers Yingli, Trina, Canadian Solar and Suntech filled the next four places in the list of suppliers and accounted for a further 27% of the module market.