US PV project order backlog surpasses 12GW, shows potential for market to double in 2011

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According to Solarbuzz’s new United States Deal Tracker report, the solar PV project order backlog for the U.S. has exceeded 12GW. The findings have prompted speculation that even as Europe faces challenges with feed-in tariff cuts, the U.S. market has the potential to double its growth in 2011, just as it did in 2010, and be one of the highest growth markets over the next two years. Solarbuzz’s report includes records for more than 375 non-residential projects in the U.S. project pipeline that are either in the planning stages or going through a request for proposal process. An added 775 projects that equal 0.7GW of PV systems and have been installed or are being installed since January 1, 2010 are also cited in the report.

Solarbuzz notes that U.S. non-residential PV systems range from 50kW to several hundreds of megawatts with corporate and government sub-segments completing 76% of these projects since January 1, 2010. Furthermore, utility-scale projects being developed are in 29 of 50 states, with four states dominating 80% of the total measured megawatts. As time passes, utility-scale PV projects are not only being serviced by specialist project developers, but directly by cell and module manufacturers as well. According the United States Deal Tracker report, the top 10 developers make up 57% of the utility pipeline in megawatt terms.  “The non-residential segment has traditionally been driven by corporate and government customers,” Craig Stevens, president of Solarbuzz. “As Renewable Portfolio Standards take effect, utilities have become a key driver of medium term market growth.”

Generally, as non-residential PV system prices decrease, the U.S. should see a corresponding market growth. Currently, installed system pricing data has illustrated that the biggest U.S. projects that are being installed range between US$3-4 per watt DC. The top ten states with the most installations include California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Texas, Colorado, North Carolina, Nevada and Florida

Solarbuzz has conclude that with over 260 different installation companies servicing the identified 1150 non-residential PV projects, which purchase the solar modules either directly from the manufacture or through distributes, module manufacturers including First Solar, Suntech Power, Sharp, Yingli Green Energy and Solarworld are the most popular module manufacturers in the non-residential PV installation segment.

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