Where in the US is solar installed?

New data shows that Californians' penchant for photovoltaics has them leading in pipeline capacity by a factor of five, while Nevada's love of large-scale plants has it sitting comfortably second.

The US solar photovoltaic project pipeline continues to be dominated by California. This state alone accounts for 48 per cent of total megawatt capacity and 30 per cent of total number of projects.

The next closest states, in terms of capacity, are Nevada, North Carolina, and Arizona, each of which is being driven primarily by large-scale ground-mount project developments. The exact nature of these ground-mount systems can vary dramatically, with the majority of pipeline capacity in Nevada composed of projects greater than 100MW; while in North Carolina and Arizona the majority of pipeline capacity is being driven by projects in the 5-30MW range.

Figure 1: Top 8 states by megawatt project pipeline capacity

Top 8 States by Megawatt Project Pipeline Capacity

Source: NPD Solarbuzz United States Deal Tracker, August 2014

In terms of total number of projects, New Jersey and Massachusetts rank much higher compared to total capacity rankings. This is a result of these markets being driven by smaller-scale roof-mount systems, which makes the number of projects more plentiful but the overall installed capacity smaller. It would take 75 systems in Massachusetts to match just one project in Nevada when comparing average system sizes in the pipeline.

Figure 2: Top 8 states by number of pipeline projects

Top 8 States by Number of Pipeline Projects

Source: NPD Solarbuzz United States Deal Tracker, August 2014

While very different from other top global markets, the downstream diversity in the US is one of its strengths; as it allows different customer and application segments opportunities to grow in a variety of regions within the greater US market. When discussing the US market, a common phrase is ‘there is no US market; there are 50 state-level markets with a layer of federal policy on top’.

This type of diversified market may lead to lower short-term growth rates as compared to other global markets, but has provided steady demand growth on a solid base of inter and intra-state policies. When the increasingly competitive nature of PV in the US market is examined on a state-by-state level, it is clear that even taken separately, some US states are driving the same amount of demand, or more, as whole countries on the global level. Understanding the US market at a federal, local, and project pipeline level is crucial for companies, both upstream and downstream, that wish to enter the market or expand their activities in the US.

Originally published by Solarbuzz. Reproduced with permission. 

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