The solar photovoltaic (PV) project order backlog for the United States market has now soared past 12 gigawatts (GW), according to the latest edition of the Solarbuzz United States Deal Tracker report. While the PV industry is facing the effects of large cuts in feed-in tariffs across Europe, the order backlog in the US confirms that the country will be one of the most promising growth markets over the next 24 months. The US market doubled in size in 2010 and is forecast to do so again in 2011.
The April edition of the United States Deal Tracker logs over 375 non-residential projects in the US project pipeline being planned or going through a Request for Proposal process. It also includes an additional 775 projects that total 0.7 GW of PV systems either installed or being installed since January 1, 2010.
Figure 1: Non-Residential Projects by System Size* (2010-2015)
*Based on Total Number of Projects, not MW
Source: Solarbuzz April 2011 United States Deal Tracker
Non-residential PV systems in the US market range from just 50 kilowatts up to hundreds of megawatts. Even with the growing utility presence in the market, the corporate and government sub-segments still have 76% of the completed projects since January 1, 2010.
Utility-scale projects under development are found in 29 states, but four states account for 80% of this total, measured in terms of MW. This segment is increasingly being serviced by specialist project developers, but also directly by major cell and module manufacturers acting in that role. The top 10 developers account for 57% of the utility pipeline in MW terms. “The non-residential segment has traditionally been driven by corporate and government customers,” Craig Stevens, president of Solarbuzz. “As Renewable Portfolio Standards take effect, utilities have become a key driver of medium term market growth.”
In terms of numbers of non-residential projects, the top 10 states are California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Texas, Colorado, North Carolina, Nevada, and Florida.
Over 260 different installation companies are servicing the identified 1150 non-residential projects that buy their modules either directly from manufacturers or through distributors. First Solar, Suntech Power, Sharp, Yingli Green Energy, and SolarWorld are the most represented module manufacturers in this segment.
The installed system pricing data shows that the largest US projects are now being completed in the range of $3-4 per watt DC. The reduction in non-residential PV system prices is key to stimulating US market growth.