US installation frequency hits one every four minutes

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The uptake of residential solar PV systems has elevated installation rates to one installation every four minutes in 2013 and could rise to one system every 83 seconds by 2016, according to leading industry analysts.

Shayle Kann, vice president of GTM Research, said that although the data is taken from the first quarter of this year, the frequency of installations indicates a bullish few years ahead for the residential market.

“This is tracking is the frequency of installations which is a proxy for the number of installations,” he said. “That goes up a lot year over year which can only happen if we have relatively bullish expectations for the residential market.”

GTM Research forecasts that there will be 136,000 systems installed this year, 128,000 of which will be residential. This is a dramatic increase from 43,000 system installations in 2010 from 2006, when installers were putting up one system every 80 minutes.

In 2016, the industry analyst firm forecasts 381,000 individual installations in the US, 360,000 of them residential, raising the rate of installs to one every 83 seconds.

“That frequency would not be true if it weren't for the fact that we were expecting strong growth in the residential market. The commercial market and the utility scale market can't do that kind of frequency.

However, Kann said that the residential market is starting from a much lower base than the commercial or utility segments,

“This year our forecast is that we should see about 50% growth in the residential market as compared to about 10% in commercial and 33% in utility scale that's just in 2013,” he said. “But the residential market has the longest way to run. In 2012, it was just 15% of the total US market. Our forecast is that it ends up in the 25-28% range by 2016.”

Rising installation rates have been driven by falling prices and access to financing through third party leases, now offered by 15 companies nationwide.

“Some margins have been compressed by increasing competition and there have been cost reductions in customer acquisition and financing,” he said. “But in the residential market in particular there's a lot of room to run on those soft costs.”

In 2016, GTM Research forecasts 2.2GW of residential, 3.1GW of commercial and 3.9GW of utility scale.

GTM Research will publish its second quarter 2013 results the week beginning September 9. 

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