US: California reaches 10 GW cumulative solar capacity

In their Q1 U.S. Solar Market Insight Report, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and GTM Research report that cumulative solar PV capacity in California has reached 10.6 GW, up from 3.5 GW in 2014. Of this, 718 MW was installed in Q1 – 231 MW of residential, 88 MW of commercial and 399 MW of utility-scale – representing an investment of $1.7 billion.

Overall, its cumulative capacity signifies a ten-fold increase on the whole of the U.S.’ in 2007; it currently has more installed solar than the U.K., France, Spain, Australia and Belgium, respectively. "When it comes to creating clean energy jobs and protecting the environment, California is showing the world how to get the job done," stated Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO.

California’s solar growth has been attributed to its effective public policies, including the 30% solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and Net Energy Metering (NEM).

Broken down, SEIA and GTM Research say that while the overall non-residential U.S. solar market is continuing to struggle, with Q1 2015 installations dipping, California’s non-residential market grew 45% YoY as "demand begins to emerge outside of state-incentive-driven opportunities."

The state is also expected to lead residential solar growth, due to its advantageous rate design and net metering rules. In Q1, it drove 53% of national residential installations.

"The residential incentives offered by the California Solar Initiative (CSI) are now fully depleted in all three investor-owned utility (IOU) service territories, yet the state’s residential market continues to grow at a record pace. In Q1 2015, 94% of residential installations came on-line across the IOUs without state incentives," continued SEIA and GTM Research.

A report by the California Energy Commission said that over a quarter of new homes being built in Southern California included solar. Overall, it said that 2,226 solar companies at work throughout the state, employing 54,700 Californians.