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The Sun Keeps Shining on Solar

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There may still be a few months to go before the warm, sunny days of summer are upon us, but that doesn’t mean things aren’t brightening up for the U.S. solar industry. In my last blog article, I noted that I expected the pace of distributed solar installations in 2013 to be at an all-time high, with continued momentum throughout 2014. The latest industry outlook report by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) confirms that the solar industry still has a lot of growth ahead of itself. Let’s breakdown the biggest highlights:

Q4 2013 PV Installation Growth Outpaced Any in the Past 15 Quarters

Solar PV installations in both the residential and non-residential sectors had their best quarter to date on an aggregate basis, and 41% growth over 2012. This is significant because total installed capacity has effectively doubled every year from 2009 to 2012, and 2013 installations accounted for 29% of total new power generating capacity installed in 2013, second only to natural gas. Solar’s stellar trajectory is credited to continued reduction in PV modules, lower installation and soft costs (like permitting, financing, and site engineering), and to ongoing state and federal incentives.

The non-residential sector has seen quite a bit of volatility in the past few years (despite overall year-over-year growth) as a consequence of divergent market conditions across states. Massachusetts for example, continues to be a solar darling with the launch of SREC II, while markets like California and New Jersey have experienced a decline in growth in non-residential solar.

Utility Appetite in Scale Solar Will Continue to Add Supply to the Market

Despite a slight decline over 2012 in contracted utility volumes (from 12.6GW to 11.7GW[1]), there was still a great deal of capacity contracted or announced in 2013 that will roll into the market over the next few years. Combined there are now 36.6GW of solar capacity under construction, contracted, or announced by utilities (and this doesn’t even include all of the distributed solar from homes and businesses).

To put this into perspective, that is the equivalent of building roughly two Palo Verde Nuclear power plants (after adjusting for capacity factors), which is the largest nuclear generator in the US with a typical annual capacity of approximately 3.6GW[2].

Other Big Highlights From 2013 Include:

  • 410MW of concentrated solar power capacity were installed in 2013 (an increase over the total U.S. capacity by 80%)[3]
  • A Navigant survey last year found that public views on clean technology concepts, including solar energy, have improved considerably, rising to a 51% favorability score for the first time since the survey started[4]
  • New York state announced the expansion of the NY-Sun Initiative, which has currently invested $800 million into solar energy through credits from NYSERDA, LIPA, and NYPA, and will now add another $30 million to the program

Now is a great time for any business to look into the benefits of distributed solar generation. The future is truly bright for the solar industry as adoption continues to rise while costs fall.

Direct Energy Business, through our industry-first partnership with SolarCity, can help unlock solar potential for your company in a way that is easy and affordable to do.  To learn more about how Direct Energy can help your business benefit from solar, click here.


[1] GTM Research, SEIA, U.S. Solar Market Insight Report 2013 Year-in-Review Executive Summary, Shayle Kann et al

[2] DE Research, http://www.eia.gov/nuclear/state/arizona/

[3] GTM Research, SEIA, U.S. Solar Market Insight Report 2013 Year-in-Review Executive Summary, Shayle Kann et al

[4] http://www.navigantresearch.com/newsroom/favorable-consumer-attitudes-toward-clean-energy-have-rebounded-significantly-in-the-last-year

Posted: March 21, 2014

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