Slower growth in the U.S. solar market during Q2 due to timing of utility-scale projects


The U.S. solar market continues its trend of strong growth, if somewhat slower than usual during the second quarter of 2014. During the quarter the nation installed 1.13 GW of solar PV, a 21% increase over the second quarter of 2013.

Growth was very different for different market segments. While utility-scale PV made up 55% of capacity installed, this market showed a decline from the first quarter. GTM notes that this is largely due to the uneven timing of project completion in the segment. The company projects that the U.S. will install 6.5 GW of solar PV in 2014, and that 60% of this will be utility-scale.

And while both the residential and “non-residential” behind-the-meter segments saw strong quarters, GTM Research VP Shayle Kann notes that these two markets are very different. “The non-residential PV market is still very lumpy based on individual states and when their incentive-driven demand ebbs and flows,” notes Kann.

Massachusetts saw a particularly strong non-residential market with 87 MW installed, the largest in the nation. Kann attributes this strong quarter to a June deadline for the last projects under the state's previous Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) program.

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This, combined with a lack of utility-scale project completions in Arizona pushed Massachusetts ahead to the number two spot behind California for state solar markets during the quarter. GTM does not expect this to happen again in the near future.

The residential PV market remains the smallest segment with 247 MW installed nationally during the quarter. However, this segment has shown the steadiest growth. “I think more than anything else, it is a combination of the economics being really attractive in a lot of locations now, and the companies that are offering residential solar are getting more mature,” says Kann.

The rapid growth of the U.S. solar market is reflected in solar starting to take up a larger share of new generation. While in 2013 natural gas-fired generation dominated capacity installed in the United States, in the first half of 2014 solar has taken a leading role, at 53% of new generation.

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