In 2012, the U.S. solar industry grew 76 percent over 2011, adding 3.3 GW of new solar capacity.
Nashua, NH -- Today the U.S. Solar Energy Industries Association along with GTM Research released the results of its annual year in review, and 2012 numbers give the solar industry another reason to celebrate.
In 2012, solar proved once again to be the fastest growing energy source in the U.S. The Solar Market Insight annual addition shows that as a nation, the country installed more than 3.3 GW of solar capacity, an increase of 76 percent over 2011. In terms of market size, at $11.5 billion, the solar market is 34 percent larger than it was in 2011 and SEIA points out that this figure doesn’t include any of the trickle-down industries that also benefit from the increased growth in the solar market.
Total U.S. PV Installed Capacity Approaching 10 GW
the United States accounted for 11 percent of the growth in the global solar installed capacity in 2012, this is the largest market share that U.S. has taken for at least fifteen years, according to the report. The residential market saw 83,000 installations and eight of the 10 largest PV installations were completed in 2012. In total, the installed PV capacity in the U.S. now stands at 7.2 GW, equivalent to the power capacity of seven nuclear power plants. By the end of 2013, the industry expects that it will top 10 GW.
PV grew in each of its three market sectors: residential, commercial and large-scale. The residential market installed 488 MW of solar capacity representing a 62 percent growth over 2011; non-residential (commercial) installed 1.04 GW, a 26 percent growth over 2011; and the large-scale market installed 1.78 GW up 134 percent over the previous year, said SEIA and GTM in the report. California remained the top state for installing PV, with 1.033 GW worth of installations taking place in 2012, and Arizona (710 MW), NJ (415 MW), Nevada (198 MW) and North Carolina (132 MW) took second through fifth place. Interestingly neither North Carolina nor Arizona were in the top five states in 2011, showing the incredible pace in which PV grew in those states. More detail on state solar markets in the image below.
CSP Projects Make Headway
In 2012, the concentrating solar power (CSP) market also made progress. Cogentrix’s 30-MW Alamosa solar project came online and all phases of Brightsource Energy’s 392-MW Ivanpah project progressed steadily in 2012 such that the entire project is set to come online this year, according to the report. In addition, Abengoa’s Solana Generating Station is more than 80 percent complete and will most likely come online in 2013, according to the report. Construction of Power Tower at SolarReserve’s Cresent Dunes Solar Project was also completed. Expect to see a large amount of CSP capacity online by the end of 2013 if all projects under construction continue to progress as planned.
Pricing: Solar Power Prices Experience Dramatic Decreases
In 2012, installed prices for solar went down in all three market sectors. According to the Solar Market Insight report authors, year over year, the national average prices declined by 26.6 percent in 2012, falling from $4.10 per watt in 2011 to $3.01 per watt in 2012, although these numbers are skewed by the sizable number of large-scale projects that came online in 2012. According to the report:
From Q4 2011 to Q4 2012, residential system prices fell 18.1% percent, from $6.16/W to $5.04/W. Quarter-over-quarter, installed costs declined by 3.5% percent. Installed prices came down in most major residential markets, including California, Arizona, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, and in a number of states fell below $4.00/W.
Non-residential system prices fell 13.3% percent year-over-year, from $4.65/W to $4.27/W. Quarter-over-quarter, installed costs actually increased by 1.4%, primarily due to a large quantity of higher-cost, government projects connected in California. SREC states, such as New Jersey and Massachusetts, saw the most significant price declines.
Utility system prices once again declined quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year, down from $3.20/W in Q4 2011 and $2.40/W in Q3 2012 to settle at $2.27/W at the end of 2012.
Overall, SEIA and GTM don’t expect trade tariffs to have any real impact in pricing going forward as Chinese manufacturers will develop workarounds in order to keep panel prices low. (The tariffs, which were finalized in 2012, will subject solar panels that include cells manufactured in China to tariffs up to 35 percent.) In fact, the analysts believe that prices may continue to fall in 2013 both globally and in the U.S.
In 2013, the report authors predict that 4.3 GW of solar PV will be installed, which would represent a 29 percent growth over 2012. The analysts believe that the slowdown in growth will be driven by a slow-down in the large-scale utility market as distributed generation will begin to gain market share.
Today, March 14 at 11:00 AM Eastern Time, SEIA hosted a Google Hangout in which report author Shayle Kann of GTM Research, SEIA President Rhone Resch and Recurrent Energy CEO Arno Harris discussed the results of the Solar Market Insight Report. You can watch video the event here. In addition, you can tweet your comments or questions under hashtag #SolarInsight.
All newly-built single-family homes within Lancaster will be required to feature solar power systems starting on January 1, 2014. This is a rather stunning announcement in itself, but the fact that it comes from a Republican is even more surprising. Mayor Rex Parris is a big solar power advocate, though. You may have heard of him already, as he has previously stated his intention to make Lancaster “the solar energy capital of the world.”
The new requirements “will be written into Lancaster’s ‘Residential Zones Update’ on residential solar,” Greentech Media reports. In addition to a variety of new requirements having to do with energy efficiency and green building practices, new single family homes will have to meet minimum solar energy system requirements.
“The purpose of the solar energy system standards,” it states, “is to encourage investment in solar energy on all parcels in the city, while providing guidelines for the installation of those systems that are consistent with the architectural and building standards of the City.” It’s also intended “to provide standards and procedures for builders of new homes to install solar energy systems in an effort to achieve greater usage of alternative energy.”
Specifically, residential homes on lots larger than 7,000 square feet will need to possess a system of 1.0–1.5 kilowatts. And residential homes in rural areas of up to 100,000 square feet need to possess a system of at least 1.5 kilowatts.
Homebuilders have the option of forgoing these requirements if they provide proof of the purchase of solar energy credits from a solar energy development that is located within the city.
This is an interesting strategy for the mayor, potentially driving a lot of local economic growth. 2014 isn’t that far off. It will be interesting to see the reactions that other mayors and politicians have to this.
Historic Fight For Clean Energy FutureCongress is deciding whether America seizes the chance for a clean energy economy or capitulates to many more decades of fossil fuel addiction, reports Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen. Earthjustice is in a fierce struggle to keep oil and coal interests from de-railing this historic opportunity for change.
Humpback Chub Has Friend In High PlacesIt isn't easy being a humpback chub in the Colorado River. Trout are prettier and even catfish are more cuddly. What's worse, as other fish flourish in these waters controlled by Glen Canyon dam, the 4-million year old chub is going extinct. But there's one thing the chub has that his neighbors don't—a friend in high places.
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Brian Smith The "God Squad" threat against whales and salmon.
David Guest Court legalizes pollution of United States waters.
Suit Filed to Re-list Gray WolvesIn April, the federal government finished what the Bush administration started when it dropped Endangered Species Act protection for gray wolves in the northern Rockies. With the stroke of a pen, wolves in Montana and Idaho lost legal and habitat protections. Instead, they got state management and the promise of a fall hunt. Conservation groups represented by Earthjustice filed a lawsuit to get back protections for the wolves.
Salmon Get Notch From CourtA federal judge has told the government to consider notching four small, salmon-killing dams on the lower Snake River if other remedies fail to save salmon. Meanwhile, the Obama administration asked the judge for more time to review the legal mess they inherited from the Bush administration before having to act.
In The Win ColumnEarthjustice and its allies won advances—or outright victories—across a broad front in the last month:
Obama Grants Reprieve For Roadless AreasThe Obama administration provided a welcome break for millions of acres of forest lands by virtually freezing development and roadbuilding on them for about a year. Dept. of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced that he will make any decisions about roadless area development in the national forests (except Idaho), including Tongass National Forest. During the Bush years, Earthjustice took numerous legal steps to keep our public lands from being turned over to developers, road builders and loggers.
EPA To Review Burning of Hazardous WasteThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has agreed to review a Bush-era rule that allows highly toxic emissions to be released by facilities that burn hazardous waste. There are approximately 265 facilities nationwide that burn such waste, sending poisons into playgrounds and neighborhoods across America. The rule was first challenged in 2005 by Earthjustice, representing the Sierra Club.
A Second Chance For WolverinesUnder pressure from Earthjustice legal action, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has agreed to reconsider whether wolverines in the lower-48 states should be protected by the Endangered Species Act. The agency had earlier concluded wolverines deserve protection but then precluded protecting them. The decision is due by December 2010.
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