SEIA Reports Best 1st Quarter in 2013

7-08-2013 SEIA Reports Best 1st Quarter in 2013

Solar accounts for 48% of new electric capacity in Q1 2013

SEAI announced Best 1st Quarter in 2013 Highlights of the report include;

  • PV installations totaled 723 MW in Q1 2013, up 33% over Q1 2012
  • Cumulative operating PV capacity in the U.S. now stands at 7,962 MW
  • The residential market grew 53% over Q1 2012 and 11% over Q4 2012, continuing its streak of consistent incremental quarterly growth
  • The non-residential market shrank 20% on both a quarterly and annual basis, which reflects slow demand across a number of major markets
  • The utility market more than doubled year-over-year, with 24 utility PV projects completed in Q1 2013
  • The average residential PV system price fell below $5.00/W, while the average non-residential system price fell below $4.00/W 

Photovoltaics (PV), which convert sunlight directly to electricity, continue to be the largest component of solar market growth in the U.S.

Installations

The U.S. installed 723 MW of PV in Q1 2013. This represents a 45% decline from Q4 2012, but 33% growth over Q1 2012. As always, it is important to take the utility market out of the equation when seeking meaningful conclusions from the comparison of quarterly installation figures; the utility market is simply too volatile and dependent on individual project timelines. In that context, Q1 was quite strong in the residential market (53% year-over-year growth) and weak in the non-residential market (down 20% year-over-year). This reflects our general outlook for the year; we expect significantly stronger growth in the residential market than the non-residential market. Utility installations were down substantially from Q4 2012, but up more than 130% relative to Q1 2012. This market generally experiences a boom in the fourth quarter and we expect the same pattern to hold in 2013.

Residential

As has been the trend for years, the residential market continued its steady, incremental quarterly growth, and has not shown seasonality and market volatility on a national basis. Quarterly growth in the residential market has ranged from 4% to 21% in 12 of the past 13 quarters, and Q1 2013 sat in the middle of that range.

Notable residential growth markets in Q1 2013:

  • California – Up 39% over Q4 2012
  • Hawaii – Up 2% over Q4 2012
  • New Jersey – Up 11% over Q4 2012

While Hawaii’s growth percentage-wise seems small compared to the other leading states, Q1 2013 residential installs follow 70% market expansion in Q4 2012. The only top-tier residential market to shrink Q/Q was Arizona, which fell 9% in Q1 2013.

Non-Residential

The non-residential market had a slow start in 2013, down 20% on both a quarterly and annual basis. Most state markets shrank Q/Q, including California (46%), Arizona (77%), Hawaii (14%), and Massachusetts (43%). The only major state market to grow on a quarterly basis was New Jersey, which installed 65 MW in Q1, up 50% over Q4 2012. While we do expect the non-residential market to grow in 2013 overall, the growth rate should be significantly slower than in previous years. The non-residential market has been hit hardest with the general decrease in state-level incentives and will take more time to adjust than will the residential market. However, we do anticipate a turnaround and expect to see larger growth in states such as California and New York in the second half of the year.

Utility

There were twenty-four utility projects completed in Q1 2013, ranging in size from 1 MW to 79 MW. Four of the five largest projects were the early phases of larger projects to be completed over the next two years. The five largest projects were commissioned in California, but utility projects were also installed in Arizona, North Carolina, Hawaii, Vermont, Minnesota, New Jersey and Ohio. Meanwhile, the pipeline of utility projects with power purchase agreements (PPAs) signed but which are not yet in operation rose to 10.7 GW, of which 3.9 GW are already in construction.

 

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