Second-Quarter U.S. Solar Installations Rise 15%

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Second-quarter 2013 results for solar power markets offered a mixed bag. Residential solar installations were flat quarter-over-quarter, commercial installations were down 11% and utility-scale installations jumped 42%. The United States installed 832 megawatts of new solar photovoltaic (PV) projects in the quarter, up 15% compared with the first quarter and up 1.5% year-over-year.

The data comes from a U.S. Solar Market Insight report from GTM Research. The firm forecasts total U.S. solar PV installations of 4,400 megawatts in 2013, a 30% increase over 2012 installations.

One reason for the increase is simply lower costs. The system cost for an average residential PV system fell 11.5%, from $5.43 per watt to $4.81 year-over-year. Installed costs fell 2.2% quarter-over-quarter. Commercial system costs fell 14.7% year-over-year, from $4.35 per watt to $3.71, while installed costs fell 5.4%.

Interestingly, module prices were slightly higher in the second quarter as demand from Japan increased and some mainland Chinese makers purchased cells made in Taiwan in order to avoid U.S. import duties.

California, Arizona, New Jersey, North Carolina and Massachusetts are the top five states for solar PV installations, with the California installation of 438 megawatts nearly five times the total for second-place Arizona’s 90 megawatts.

GTM Research expects the U.S. share of global solar installations to reach a total of 13% by the end of 2013, up from 5% in 2008. On a cumulative basis, the United States installed solar PV capacity will top 10,000 megawatts by the end of this year.

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