U.S. solar market to top 440MW in ’09, says GTM Research: 50% annual growth through 2012

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Despite the global recession and the particular impact this has had on the U.S. economy in 2009, GTM Research has forecasted record PV installations of 440MW this year, compared with 320MW in 2008. Significant growth is projected through 2012 with annual installed growth rates of 50%, reaching over 2GW of installations in 2012 alone. The market research firm expects ‘second-tier’ states will soon emerge to diversify the U.S. market out of California (50% of demand), leading to 50,000 new jobs and over US$6.1 billion in annual investments for the sector.

“California will remain the largest PV market in the country, but downstream success is contingent on competing in the five to seven second-tier demand states that will emerge by 2012, each supporting over 40MW of annual demand,” noted Shayle Kann, Energy Analyst at GTM Research and co-author of the report.

However, the market research firm warned that the complex mix of incentives and regulations that govern growth in these new state markets had to be understood to gain a clear picture of demand capabilities. The report noted that by 2012, second tier states such as Arizona, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada and Massachusetts will reach an installed capacity of 376MW.

GTM Research expects the residential and utility-scale sectors to lead demand, which have taken advantage of incentives in the new Recovery Act of 2008. Funding from the 2009 Stimulus Package (ARRA) will also support market expansion, especially for public sector projects.

Utility-scale installations will be the fastest growing market segment, reaching 466MW in the 2012 base-case scenario with 56% annual growth rates. In the reports ‘upside scenario,’ total investment reaches US$8.17 billion in 2012 at an average annual rate of 41.1%. This is due in part to renewable portfolio standard (RPS) requirements as well as a result of enhanced interest in utility ownership of PV power projects.

In the residential sector, GTM Research expects new financing models that reduce the dependence of private ownership of solar systems to gain momentum, could lead to the residential sector to grow to 363MW by 2012 in a base case scenario.

Over the next four years, the U.S. will experience the most rapid demand growth of any major PV market, surpassing Spain to become the second leading PV market in the world behind Germany.

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