Driven by a combination of policy initiatives, California is poised to regain its dominant position in the U.S. solar PV market in 2013, according to new research from NPD Solarbuzz.
California's market share has gradually declined as New Jersey, Arizona and other states – especially on the East Coast – launched their own initiatives to deploy PV and to diversify their energy portfolios. In 2011, California's share dropped to 30%, while New Jersey' share jumped to 17%.
‘NPD Solarbuzz projects that California will regain its market share, after seeing declines in 2010 and 2011, and eventually hold more than half of the U.S. market share in 2013, thanks to a variety of programs, policies, and regulations that cover the whole spectrum of the PV market, including residential, non-residential, and utility segments,’ explains Junko Movellan, senior analyst at NPD Solarbuzz.
California's baseline market demand has been supported by the California Solar Initiative (CSI), the nation's largest ratepayer-funded program. While the CSI has been instrumental in the development of residential and non-residential net-metered systems (used to lower electricity costs on-site), California has also instituted several other programs to support larger systems to satisfy the state's renewable portfolio standard (RPS) requirements.
California has one of the most ambitious RPS goals, requiring both public and investor-owned utilities to procure 33% of all electricity delivered to retail customers from renewable sources by 2020.
To meet this requirement, the state's utilities have solicited and contracted not only large-scale centralized projects, but also mid-sized systems – often below 20 MW and interconnected to the distribution grid. Contracted large-scale projects in California that are under development include the 550 MW Topaz solar farm, the 550 MW Desert Sunlight project and the 250 MW California Valley Solar Ranch.
According to the NPD Solarbuzz North America PV Markets Quarterly, the California solar PV market will experience 60% year-over-year (Y/Y) growth this year, continuing to lead the nation with the long-term commitment to solar and other renewable and energy-efficient technologies.
The U.S. solar PV market will grow 51% Y/Y in 2012, but it is projected to experience slower growth in 2013 at 30% Y/Y, due to the oversupply of solar renewable energy certificates on the East Coast and phasing out of the Treasury cash-grant program, the company adds.