The US installed 723 MW of solar in Q1 2013, which accounted for over 48 percent of all new electric capacity installed in the US last quarter, according to GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) report US Solar Market Insight: 1st Quarter 2013.
Overall, these installations represent the best first quarter of any given year for the industry. However, the numbers represent a 45 percent decline from Q4 2012, but 33 percent growth over Q1 2012.
The growth was driven by the residential and utility market segments, which registered first-quarter highs with 164 MW and 318 MW respectively. However, the non-residential market shrank 20 percent on both a quarterly and annual basis, which reflects slow demand across a number of major markets.
The residential market remains a highlight for US solar with 53 percent year-over-year growth. Unlike the non-residential and utility markets, residential solar has not exhibited seasonality and market volatility on a national basis; quarterly growth in the US residential market has ranged from 4 percent to 21 percent in 12 of the past 13 quarters.
The non-residential market had a slow start in 2013, down 20 percent on both a quarterly and annual basis. Most state markets shrank Q/Q, including California (46 percent), Arizona (77 percent), Hawaii (14 percent) and Massachusetts (43 percent). The only major state market to grow on a quarterly basis was New Jersey, which installed 65 MW in Q1, up 50 percent 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,” states the report. “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.”
Overall, the report forecasts 4.4 GW of PV to be installed by the end of 2013, growing to nearly 9.2 GW annually in 2016.
GTM Research and SEIA have increased each year’s forecast marginally from past editions of the report, due largely to increasingly bullish expectations for the residential market and the near-term opportunity it offers. Cumulative operating PV capacity in the US now stands at 7.9 GW.