US solar industry enjoys second-best quarter

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The latest U.S. Solar Market Insight report from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has revealed that a massive 832 MW of solar capacity was installed across the nation in the second quarter of this year – the second-highest quarter figure ever.

After an encouraging Q1 for 2013 – when 725 MW of solar capacity was installed – the second quarter experienced surging growth, its 832 MW installed taking the cumulative operating PV capacity nationwide to 8,858 MW (8.85 GW). The only quarter on record that can beat this performance was the fourth and final quarter of last year, when 2012 ended on a high with 1,311 MW installed.

However, the forecast for the second half of 2013 is even more encouraging, with GTM anticipating that 4,372 MW of PV capacity will be installed this year, which represents a 30% increase on 2012 when a comparatively meager 3,366 MW was installed.

Large-scale growth, residential reduction

Broken down by sector, it was the U.S.’s utility-scale market that catalyzed the impressive second quarter growth. A total of 38 individual utility projects totaling 452 MW were installed, and a further 3.9 GW of utility-scale projects are currently under constrution, the report finds.

Conversely, the residential market in the U.S. remained flat from quarter to quarter in what was the first time in more than a year that no incremental growth in residential PV was recorded. The non-residential market contracted in Q2, reflecting the reductive trend the industry has followed throughout 2013.

Some of the nation’s most recognizable brands invested big in solar in 2013, however, with Walmart leading the way. The retail giants have installed 89 MW of PV capacity in 2013 so far, closely followed by Kohl’s, Costco and Apple.

State-by-state, California is forecast to top all three charts – residential, non-residential and utility – for 2013, with Hawaii taking second place in residential, new Jersey coming second for non-residential, and Arizona taking silver in the utility sector.