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Tue Jun 11, 2013, 05:35 PM

2013 Q1 Update: U.S. Solar Industry Keeps Chugging Along (723 MW installed)

http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterdetwiler/2013/06/11/2013-q1-update-u-s-solar-industry-keeps-chugging-along/

GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association released numbers this morning suggesting that the solar juggernaut is not slowing down. Consider this: in the first three months of the year, the U.S. installed 723 MW, just under half of all new generation capacity installed across the country, and the best first quarter yet for solar.

The utility solar market scored big, with 318 MW installed under the direction and ownership of the electric utilities. However, the residential market saw 164 MW installed, with 53% year-over-year growth.

The biggest development driving this trend is the explosive growth of third-party owned solar, which removes the upfront financing obstacle. Companies such as Solar City have approached this problem head on. In the past two months alone, Solar City announced a $500 mn lease financing agreement with Goldman Sachs, as well as a zero down financing program for homebuilders wishing to include solar in new construction. The GTM/SEIA report notes that these third-party models supported two-thirds or more of all residential solar installation in some states.

As one might expect, the ‘left coast’ had a major role to play, especially in the residential sector. In California, residential installations actually eclipsed non-residential additions, driven largely by the increasingly favorable economics. With the benefit of the 30 percent federal investment tax credit, solar is now cost-effective when compared with relatively high California utility rates.

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