America installs 1.35 GW of solar PV in Q3 2014

Greentech Media Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) have released their quarterly U.S. Solar Market Insight report, finding 41% year-over-year growth in the third quarter of 2014 with 1.35 GW-DC installed.

This is the second-largest quarter to date. In the first nine months of 2014 the United States has installed 3.96 GW, as the world’s third-largest solar PV market, with more than 1 GW installed each quarter.

Q3 figures include 825 MW-DC in the utility-scale segment, which remains the largest market segment. Additionally, the U.S. residential market exceeded 300 MW for the first time ever. Residential installations have grown in 18 of the last 19 quarters.

However, the nation’s commercial, government and non-profit installations fell sequentially. This segment, which the report lists as “non-residential”, has been more volatile than the residential market.

SEIA and GTM’s numbers are in sharp contrast to those released by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which reported only 130 MW-AC installed during the quarter. FERC traditionally has not counted residential and most commercial installations, however it is clear that the agency is also missing a number of utility-scale installations.

A prime example is the final phase of First Solar’s Topaz Solar Farm, which regional electricity organization WECC reports as coming online in late October. FERC’s total number for October are less than the capacity added by the final phase of Topaz alone.

So while FERC calculates that solar represented only 19% of new capacity coming online in the first nine months of 2014, Solar Market Insight finds that solar represented 36% of new capacity.

By either metric, the U.S. installed more natural gas capacity during this period.

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