US residential solar ‘taking off’ as all comers witnessing quarterly sales growth

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Image: Solarcity.

The US residential solar market has ridden out a turbulent third quarter to record impressive installation and sales volumes, giving the industry momentum to potentially avoid the seasonal slowdown often experienced at the tail end of the year.

Panellists participating in a webinar organised by investment bank Roth Capital said the market may be up as much as 50% year-on-year in terms of sales as it recovers from a Q2 hit by shelter-in-place orders.

Matt Potere, CEO of Sunlight Financial, said the loan provider posted sales growth 50% higher than the same period last year, and suggested that the industry as a whole saw a similar increase. “We think it's pretty broad-based. We look at small installers, midsize installers and large installers… they're all up pretty consistently,” he said.

Originations, meanwhile, were said to be unaffected by the wildfires and hurricanes, with Dan Javan, CEO of Suntuity, revealing that the installer broke new records in recent months.

He expects growth to continue thanks to a larger potential consumer base: “Usually Q4 to Q1, you slow down a little bit during the holidays, but I don’t see it slowing down at the same rate as it was slowing down in previous years.

“The biggest thing that we have to keep in mind [is that] today people are consuming a lot more power. They're sitting at home, they run their air conditioners, they’re running the heaters and things like that. So you’re consuming a lot more power. So the bill that usually was flattening out once you get into winter, that’s getting extended out further.”

The positive figures for Q3 come after a joint report from the Solar Energy Industries Association and Wood Mackenzie found that US rooftop solar installs fell by nearly one-quarter in Q2 due restrictions from the pandemic. The report suggested that while some states with less restrictive stay-at-home directives – such as Arizona and Texas – saw marginal if any decline in quarterly installations, others posted reductions of up to 75%.

Those lower installation figures appear to be a temporary blip in the industry’s growth. “A lot of segments outside of solar are still sort of figuring things out, but solar is just taking off,” Chuck Norris, strategic account manager for Gexpro, said.

However, an increase in the delay between sales and installations has been noted, in part due to labour issues, permitting delays or remote working.

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