'8GW' of US PV in 2014-15: Solarbuzz

The US solar market is set to flatten out over the next two years, with NPD Solarbuzz predicting that 8GW of new capacity will come on stream in 2014-15 – virtually the same as the previous two-year period.

Having ended the year with 12.1GW of installed PV capacity, the US will “approach” the 20GW level by the end of 2015, Solarbuzz says.

By comparison, the US added 8.15GW of solar capacity during 2012-13, a tiny sliver of it coming from CSP and the remainder from PV, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

While Solarbuzz’s prediction would mean a leveling out – or even a slight decline – for the PV market in the US over the next two years, it still offers tremendous scope for industry growth and maturation in the mid-term, especially in the rooftop segment.

Having not crossed the 1GW threshold of cumulative PV capacity until 2009, the US is now the world’s third largest PV market, after China and Japan.

The US market will be driven in large part over the next few years by developers wishing to get ahead of a planned reduction to the federal Investment Tax Credit at the end of 2016.

The stabilization of module prices globally, one result of the tidal wave of bankruptcies the industry has seen over the past few years, also means there is less incentive for developers to wait for organic cost reductions to the economics of their projects.

The three biggest threats to the US solar market, as identified by Solarbuzz, are ongoing legal challenges to statewide Renewable Portfolio Standards; the growing chorus of voices calling for changes to net-metering programmes; and uncertainty related to the US government’s investigation of the use of Taiwanese cells in Chinese PV modules.

While changes to RPS or net-metering programmes would take time to trickle down, strict new tariffs on Chinese and Taiwanese PV kit would have an immediate – and countrywide – impact on the US market, Solarbuzz notes.

A final ruling in the case is expected in October.