The pipeline of solar photovoltaic projects awaiting completion within the U.S. has grown by 7% during the past 12 months and now exceeds 43 GW, says a report from NPD Solarbuzz. According to the report, the growing project pipeline remains a key factor in driving the positive outlook for the U.S. PV industry, which is now forecast to become the third-largest solar PV market globally in 2014, after China and Japan.
Moreover, small to medium projectsÂ – those up to 30 MW in size – are taking over from large projects – those in excess of 100 MW – as the main drivers ofÂ U.S. PV pipeline growth, NPD Solarbuzz says.
Currently, a few mega-scale PV projects are dominating short-term US solar PV deployment. These projects include the Mount Signal Solar, Copper Mountain, Calexico, Desert Sunlight and Topaz projects. According to the report, the 10 largest US solar PV projects account for more than 5 GW of new solar PV capacity coming online during the next three years.
However, NPD Solarbuzz says the focus of solar PV project developers has now shifted to project sizes below 30 MW. During the past 12 months, the number of projects in the U.S. pipeline in this category has increased by 33% to more than 2,100 projects.
NPD Solarbuzz says developers of solar PV projects in the U.S. have to transition more quickly from the planning stages of a project and into construction in order to qualify for the 30% solar investment tax credit, which is due to expire at the stroke of 2017.
‘With just three years remaining until the full tax credit incentive rate declines, solar PV project developers in the United States are now planning to complete projects, or have a significant portion under construction, prior to the 2017 deadline,’ says Christine Beadle, analyst at NPD Solarbuzz. ‘This deadline is causing a shift in focus to smaller projects that can be completed on shorter timescales.’