Installed PV capacity in the US has surpassed 10GW, a new and significant milestone for the country, according to NPD Solarbuzz on the eve of one of the country’s major expos in 2013.

Rather than reaching a peak, the market research firm is forecasting installations to increase by an additional 80% over the next 18 months, surpassing 17GW by the end of 2014.

The market research firm is the first to claim that the US has reached the 10GW level.

“The US has now joined an elite group of maturing solar PV markets that have accumulated more than 10GW of installed capacity,” commented Christopher Sunsong, analyst at NPD Solarbuzz. “Only Germany, Italy, and China now have more installed PV capacity than the US. The US is only the fourth country to hit the 10GW milestone of installed PV capacity.”

The market research firm said that new installed figures for the residential segment had been one of the catalysts for growth due to the decline in the average installed system price from US$6.00/W two years ago to approximately US$4.25/W today.

The biggest market so far, utility-scale PV, had finally followed European installed costs that had reached US$3.00/W at the same time. 

NPD Solarbuzz recently reiterated that the global PV market was dominated by the utility-scale market which was responsible for at least 45% of installations.

As is typical with the diversified US market there are extreme regional differences in PV installation levels that both prove advantageous as well as problematic.

“The US solar PV market growth has been stimulated by an increased range of solar incentive programs at the state level,” added Sunsong. “While the far-West and Mid-Atlantic states dominate the 10GW installed, the Southwest and Southeast regions have recently made strong contributions. Other regions however, such as the Great Plains and Great Lakes, remain largely undeveloped, creating further market upside going forward.”

Yet, NPD Solarbuzz acknowledges that almost 1,400 solar PV installations in excess of 500kW size have been completed across 39 different states so far. This has accounted for approximately 5.4GW of new capacity in the US.

However, no surprises that nearly 40% of new capacity have been installed in California.