Steady growth of residential PV installations shows the market nears maturity, the analysis said (Credit: SEIA / Wood Mackenzie)
Tariff and policy uncertainty saw installations decline across US utility and non-residential PV last year even as the residential segment bounced back, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie.
The latest update from the trade body and the consultancy found a 7% year-on-year dip for US utility-scale PV installations in 2018.
The segment, the analysis found, produced the bulk (6.2GW) of PV-wide capacity additions (10.6GW) in the country last year but faltered under “disruption, delay and even cancellation” due to Section 201 tariffs.
Adopted last year, the US levies on module and cell imports prompted sponsors to postpone 2018 commercial launches to 2019, according to the SEIA and Wood Mackenzie. In the Carolinas, delays were compounded by a hold-up with interconnections under the PURPA programme.
For utility-scale PV, the flip side to the Section 201 tariffs was that module prices are falling faster than expected. This, the analysis pointed out, boosted competitiveness and helped drive the signing of 13.2GW of utility solar PPAs in 2018; the resulting, current contracted pipeline of 25.3GW marks an all-time record for US solar.
PV in US power addition top two for sixth year running
According to the SEIA and Wood Mackenzie, the 10.6GW added across all PV subcategories in 2018 marks the sixth consecutive year where solar is amongst the US top two for power additions, together with natural gas.
Unlike utility solar, the residential segment reversed its decline throughout 2017 by recording in 2018 year-on-year installation growth of 7%. The steady pace of addition indicates the market is nearing its maturity point, the new analysis indicates.
According to the document, installations across California, Massachusetts and the other typical residential heavyweights are being fast overtaken by new-entrants including Texas and Florida.
Future residential growth can be fuelled by incentives and net metering – Nevada saw a 261% jump in 2018 after reinstating the policy – but could be hindered by high customer acquisition costs, the SEIA and Wood Mackenzie noted.
Their analysis found a slight decline – 8% – in non-residential installations of US PV in 2018. Massachusetts and California alone saw a joint 450MW dip last year, although the former (64% drop) bore the brunt to a greater extent than the latter (17%).
See here for more information on the US Solar Market Insight by the SEIA and Wood Mackenzie
The USA solar pipeline hit 9.8 GW in August 2019, according to market analysts, Wood Mackenzie so what does this mean for the solar sector moving forward? Are module shipments constrained? Have manufacturers raised prices for late-comers? What impact will this have on 2020 projects and what can we expect for the ITC negotiations? These questions and more will be discussed in this informative, free webinar. - With almost 10 GW of solar pipeline, how is this affecting the supply chain and cost for panels? - How likely is it that the ITC will be renewed, what trends are emerging in terms of beating the step down? - How helpful are emerging trends and technologies (e.g. bifacial panels, floating solar, data aggregation and management) in helping to beat the ITC step down? - Trade wars: what impact did section 201 have on the market, and what could we expect moving forward This webinar acts as a primer for the Solar & Storage Finance Summit which takes place on 29 & 30 October in New York City.
Understand fully the technical and logistical supply chains that determine the production and performance of solar modules, including all related factors impacting quality, reliability & bankability.
Now in its sixth successful year, Solar & Storage Finance USA is the only event which looks at raising capital for solar, storage and collocated solar and storage projects in the USA. The conference will help delegates understand how providers are evolving propositions for storage and how they can access capital for standalone solar or storage, and co-located projects. Meet debt providers, funders, utilities, corporate off takers and blue chip energy firms with capital to invest and developers with credible pipelines.