A return to U.S. Solar Pre-eminence, State by State

The SEIA/Greentech Media U.S. Solar Market Insight Report released Thursday finds the United States returning to global pre-eminence in solar adoption.

Looking at the big picture, two numbers shout from the mountaintops: 11% of global PV installations occurred in the United States, earning the country its greatest share of the world’s install market in at least fifteen years. And behind this is an immense 76% increase in U.S. PV installations between 2011 and 2012.

Put another way, if you count to 1, two panels have been installed somewhere in America, according to SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch.

Of course, in that same passing second, there’s a ton of money continuing to be spent on fossil fuel utility energy. But ten years ago it was difficult to imagine what a truly scalable solar industry would look like, and now it has a distinct shape and economic value. Solar’s growth into something whose progress can be counted in seconds is indicative of real momentum. In other words, keep counting.

Drilling down a bit, here’s what we find interesting in the report:

3rd party owned or leased systems, or lackethereof : More than 90% of all residential systems installed in Arizona during in Q4 were lease or Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) systems. Still, 28 states still have no 3rd party options to speak of. Taking these two stats together, one would imagine that what’s growing in popularity now in 22 states would have similar appeal in the other 28. Top 10 solar states like North Carolina and New Mexico are halfway there, installing lots of large scale cash projects, but are still missing out on the scalable job growth and economic benefit of letting their citizens buy electricity the same way they can purchase cars.

If you can make it in New York…: The Empire State’s place in the top ten for 2012 appears to be just the beginning. With 60 Megawatts installed in 2012, and Governor Cuomo’s commitment to 10 more years of the NY Sun program, an enduring market place is taking shape. SolarCity felt this growth firsthand, as we opened an expanded operations center in Albany, and launched our residential business on Long Island.

Ohio’s potential: SolarCity landed in the Buckeye state just last week, announcing projects at 12 Walmarts and Sam’s Clubs. The state ranks fourth nationally in potential solar production (a 30,000 foot level stat estimating solar capacity if every available rooftop were covered in PV) at 27 gigawatts.

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