GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association® (SEIA®) today released U.S. Solar Market Insight Q3 2013, the definitive analysis of solar power markets in the U.S., with strategic state-specific data for 28 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

The U.S. installed 930 megawatts of photovoltaics (PV) in Q3, 2013, up 20 percent over Q2 2013 and 35 percent over Q3 2012. This represents the second-largest quarter in the history of the U.S. market and the largest quarter ever for residential PV installations. Even more importantly, 2013 is likely to be the first time in more than fifteen years that the U.S. installs more solar capacity than world leader Germany, according to GTM Research forecasts.

“Without a doubt, 2013 will go down as a record-shattering year for the U.S. solar industry,” said Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO. “We’ve now joined Germany, China and Japan as worldwide leaders when it comes to the installation of new solar capacity. This unprecedented growth is helping to create thousands of American jobs, save money for U.S. consumers, reduce pollution nationwide and lessen our dangerous dependence on often-unstable foreign energy supplies. When it comes to preparing for America’s future, clean, dependable and affordable solar energy has become 'The Little Engine That Could,' defying expectations and powering economic growth -- and frankly, we’re just scratching the surface of our industry’s enormous potential.”

The residential market continues to see the most rapid growth of any segment in the U.S. PV market. Through Q3, residential PV installations were up 49 percent year-over-year, driven largely by progressive state renewable energy initiatives. The non-residential (commercial) market has seen the most difficulty this year with installations forecasted to stay flat over last year. The utility market continues its consistently strong installation numbers and is forecasted to exceed 1 gigawatt of installations next quarter, including Abengoa’s Solana, the world’s largest parabolic trough concentrating solar power (CSP) plant. This will be the first time any individual market segment has hit that mark.

“Solar is the second-largest source of new electricity capacity in the U.S. this year, trailing only natural gas," said Shayle Kann, Vice President of Research at GTM. "As solar continues its march toward ubiquity, the market will require continued innovation, efficiency improvement and regulatory clarity. But already the groundwork has been laid for a mainstream solar future."

At the state level, California continues to lead the solar PV charge, installing 455 megawatts in Q3. North Carolina moved into the No. 3 spot in total PV installations with 23 percent growth over last quarter. Other movers and shakers on the state rankings list include Nevada (moving from 17 to 5) and Vermont (from 21 to 12).

Looking at the U.S. solar market on the whole, U.S. Solar Market Insight: Q3 2013 forecasts nearly 5 gigawatts of PV and CSP will be installed during 2013. Installations have already surpassed the 10 gigawatts cumulative benchmark, and by the end of the year more than 400,000 solar projects will be operating across the country.

 Key Report Findings

  • PV installations reached 930 megawatts in Q3 2013, up 20 percent over Q2 2013. This represents the second-largest quarter for solar installations in U.S. history
  • The utility solar sector represented more than half of new PV capacity installed, but the residential market also showed impressive growth with 12 percent expansion over Q2
  • The non-residential market  remains flat; however, we anticipate a strong resumption of growth in 2014
  • 2013 may be the first year in recent history in which the U.S. installs more solar capacity than Germany
  • Blended average PV system prices fell 4.2 percent in Q3 2013, reaching a new low of $3.00 per watt
  • We forecast that the U.S. will install 4.3 gigawatts of new PV in 2013, up 27 percent over 2012
  • The 392 megawatts Ivanpah CSP project is scheduled to begin delivering electricity to the grid before the end of 2013


About U.S. Solar Market Insight®:
U.S. Solar Market Insight® is a quarterly publication of the Solar Energy Industries Association® (SEIA)® and GTM Research. Each quarter, we survey nearly 200 installers, manufacturers, utilities, and state agencies to collect granular data on photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar. This data constitutes the backbone of the U.S. Solar Market Insight® report, in which we identify and analyze trends in U.S. solar demand, manufacturing, and pricing by state and market segment. We also use this analysis to look forward and forecast demand over the next five years. As the U.S. solar market expands, we hope that U.S. Solar Market Insight® will provide an invaluable decision making tool for installers, suppliers, investors, policymakers and advocates alike.