The U.S. installed 930MW of PV solar in the third quarter of 2013, up 20% over the previous quarter and up 35% over Q3 2012, according to "U.S. Solar Market Insight: 3rd Quarter 2013," a report by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). This represents the second largest quarter in the history of the U.S. solar market and the largest quarter ever for residential PV installations. Even more impressive, 2013 is likely to be the first year in more than 15 years in which the U.S. installs more solar capacity than the world's solar leader, Germany, GTM Research forecasts.
The utility market continues its consistently strong installation numbers and is forecast to exceed 1GW of installations in the last quarter of 2013. While the utility solar sector represented more than 50% of all new PV capacity installed in Q3, the residential market continued its rapid growth. The residential segment showed an impressive increase of 45% year-over-year and posted its largest quarter in history, with 186 MW installed. The residential segment's growth was mainly driven by increasingly attractive economics and by fair net energy metering (NEM) policies. According to the report, blended average PV system prices fell 4.2% in Q3 2013 compared to the previous quarter, reaching a new low of $3.00/W.
The commercial solar market has faced the most difficulty this year, with installations forecast to stay flat over last year. However, GTM and SEIA expect a strong resumption of growth in 2014.
"Without a doubt, 2013 will go down as a record-shattering year for the U.S. solar industry,” said Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO. “We’ve now joined Germany, China, and Japan as worldwide leaders when it comes to the installation of new solar capacity. This unprecedented growth is helping to create thousands of American jobs, save money for U.S. consumers, and reduce pollution nationwide."
"When it comes to preparing for America’s future, clean, dependable, and affordable solar energy has become the ‘Little Engine That Could,’ defying expectations and powering economic growth – and, frankly, we’re just scratching the surface of our industry’s enormous potential," Resch added.
At the state level, California continues to be the solar PV leader, installing 455MW in Q3. North Carolina moved into the number three spot in total PV installations with 23% growth quarter-over-quarter. Other movers and shakers on the state rankings list include Nevada and Vermont, which moved from moving from 17 to 5 and from 21 to 12, respectively.
Looking at the U.S. solar market on the whole, the report forecasts a bit over 5GW of PV and CSP will be installed during 2013 -- 4.3GW of which will consist of new PV, an increase of 27% over last year. Cumulative solar capacity has already surpassed the 10GW mark, and by the end of the year more than 400,000 solar projects will be operating across the country.
"Solar is the second-largest source of new electricity capacity in the U.S. this year, trailing only natural gas. As solar continues its march toward ubiquity, the market will require continued innovation, efficiency improvement and regulatory clarity. But already the groundwork has been laid for a mainstream solar future," Shayle Kann, Vice President of Research at GTM commented.