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United States: Another 832 MW of Solar in Q2 of 2013: More To Come

Published at: Sep 12, 2013
source: Forbes.com

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The Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research just released the U.S. solar installation numbers for Q2 today. Not surprisingly, the solar juggernaut continues to pick up speed, with 832 megawatts installed – the best quarter to date (15% better than Q1 of this year).

The utility sector continues to lead the charge, with 38 projects crossing the finish line, totaling 452 MW.  The residential sector slowed slightly and was flat relative to Q1.  For the year, the update predicts almost 4,400 MW of added photovoltaic solar capacity (compared with 3,300 MW in 2012). To put this into context, total installed solar PV capacity in the U.S. now stands at 8,858 MW.  The growth curve is steep indeed.

Shayle Kann, Vice President of Research at GTM noted “Distributed generation is the big story in the U.S. solar market this year…We expect significant growth, especially in the residential sector, but the future will be dictated by the increasingly-complex nexus between the solar industry and utilities.”

That nexus Kann refers to is very complicated.  It has to do with regulatory policies, the value solar power brings to the system, and the rates paid to the producers of solar energy, particularly where it is a distributed generating resource.

Installed costs will continue to fall significantly. Panel prices will continue to soften, and soft costs (such items as customer acquisition, permitting, and on-site installation) have significant room to fall.  But at the end of the day, distributed solar is an intermittent resource that requires either storage or back-up from the utility grid.  How the utilities and regulators deal with those issues (such as net metering) will have a big impact on how quickly the solar revolution progresses.

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