During the first quarter of 201, the U.S.became just the fourth country to reach the milestone level of 10 gigawatts (GW) of installed solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity. A total of 1.8 GW of new solar PV was installed during the quarter in the U.S.
According to NPD Solarbuzz, 83% of U.S. solar PV capacity has been installed over the past 14 quarters. Falling cost is the big driver of new solar installations, and increased incentives also play a big role, especially in California. Since 2007, the compound annual growth rate of solar capacity in the U.S. has topped 50%.
The installed cost of solar PV system has dropped to about $4.25 per watt for a residential installation and $3 per watt for a utility-scale project. A typical residential system generates from 3 to 7 kilowatts, putting the price range at current cost in a range of $12,750 to $29,750.
An analyst at NPD Solarbuzz noted:
US solar PV market growth has been stimulated by an increased range of solar incentive programs at the state level. While the Far West and Mid-Atlantic states dominate the 10 GW installed, the Southwest and Southeast regions have recently made strong contributions. Other regions however, such as the Great Plains and Great Lakes, remain largely undeveloped, creating further market upside going forward.
Last year some 29 GW of solar PV were installed globally, while solar panel manufacturing produced 45 GW of panels. As the supply-demand ratio struggles to regain some sort of balance, it's likely that prices for solar PV panels will continue to decline, but at a slower rate than in the past few years.
Filed under: Energy (Business)