California is poised to remain the top US solar market according to new report by IHS iSuppli

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IHS iSuppli Photovoltaic Service has released a new report projecting California to remain the top solar market in the US through 2015. Currently the state has the potential to add 7.5GW of installed PV power between 2010 and 2015 with installed PV capacity projected to reach 967MW in 2011 alone. IHS foresees California generating nearly 1.2GW of solar power in2012, which would be more than the PV capacity of the next six-highest states combined.

During the same 2010 through 2015 time period, IHS data is forecasting that states approaching the land size of California, such as New Mexico and Arizona, will have less than a third of the PV capacity California, lingering in the mid-300MW range. Furthermore, the data suggests that outside of the 10 states where solar generation will be highest, the total PV capacity from the lowest 40 states will account for one-third of California’s capacity at 395MW.

Mike Sheppard, an analyst for photovoltaics at IHS, advised that the abundant solar projects in California could easily lead to the state producing a large portion of its clean energy from PV sources. California is said to have the highest insolation levels for measuring the rate of solar radiation delivery as measured by NASA. Los Angles scored 5.4kWh per square meter per day, while the Bay area near San Francisco scared 5.08kWh/ (m2/day) and San Francisco itself ranked at 4.89kWh/ (m2/day).

IHS noted that California’s solar market is bolstered even further by the various research and development and manufacturing companies that are based in the state. Sheppard additionally mentioned the state’s political backing for clean energy leading it to have an advantage for PV-power. “Having sustained political will toward the achievement of renewable energy is definitely a good thing for California, and a strong political will is an encouraging sign for investors to go ahead and make their bets here in the state,” said Sheppard. 

However, Sheppard acknowledged that California’s Achilles heel at this time is its budget crisis. He advised that if the financial issues in the state continue to go unchecked, California’s creditworthiness could be downgraded and lead to PV companies finding it too expensive to continue doing business in the state. Add the lengthy and complicated bureaucracy process for PV power permits and California could lose its foothold as the leader of the US solar market.

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