The U.S. had a blistering amount of solar installations in the first quarter of 2012 with an impressive 506 megawatts -- a record for typically slow first quarters and second only to the 780 megawatts installed in the previous quarter.

 

Source: U.S. Solar Market Insight, 1st Quarter 2012
 
 
A new report from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and GTM Research finds that the U.S. is still a solar growth market led by strength in the commercial sector in Q1.

Utility-scale will continue to drive U.S. solar growth, and 2012 has the makings of yet another banner year with an increased forecast for 2012 of 3.2 gigawatts. The U.S. market grew 109 percent from 2010 to 2011 and will grow another 75 percent from 2011 to 2012.

Some more stats from the report:
 

  • The cumulative total of solar photovoltaics across America is 4,427 megawatts.
  • Adding CSP to that figure brings the total to 4,943 megawatts.
  • A total of 1.1 gigawatts (AC) of CSP are now under construction.
  • Blended module prices for Q1 2012 were down to $0.94 per watt, a staggering 47 percent lower than Q1 2011 levels of $1.78 per watt.
  • New Jersey edged out California in Q1 for the lead in solar installations with 174 megawatts. Sorry, California.

 

Shayle Kann, the Managing Director of GTM Research, saw the New Jersey number as surprising, given the plunging market price of SRECs in that state.

As for 2013, things look a bit murkier for that forecast. An expired 1603 tax grant, impacts of an import tariff on solar cells imported from China, and a "trough" in California and New Jersey loom large.

But Kann maintains some optimism: "We expect the U.S. market to regain momentum thereafter and continue along its path to become a global PV market leader by 2015.”

There's an enormous amount of detail on the U.S. market to be found in the U.S. Solar Market Insight: 1st Quarter 2012 report, and more information can be found here.

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