According to new figures released by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), 506 megawatts (MW) of new installations came online during the first quarter of 2012. That robust figure followed the American industry’s record-setting 780 MW that came online between October and the end of December, and it puts it on pace to easily surpass last year’s installation mark.
From an installation perspective as an 85 percent growth over the first quarter of 2011 has increased confidence that the industry will maintain its momentum through 2012. The better-than-expected first-quarter figures has led GTM Research to bump up its 2012 projections by about 15 percent to 3.3 gigawatts (GW), which would represent a big leap over the 1.8 GW installed in 2011. From there, the projected growth is relatively flat in 2013 as the impacts of the 1603 expiration and the new tariffs finally catch up with the industry. But strong growth is still projected for 2014 (about 5.3 GW), 2015 (about 6.6 GW) and 2016 (about 8.4 GW) as the U.S. emerges as a global market leader.
The readjusted 2012 outlook, coupled with expected declines in the European market, would push U.S. market share into double digits at nearly 11 percent. This would be up from 7 percent in 2011 and 5 percent in 2010, and it’d make the U.S. the fourth largest global PV market.
The upward trajectory would also make it one of four large-scale international markets with expected long-term growth, with the others being China, India and Japan.