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Residential solar market rises

Photonics Spectra
Mar 2013
As module prices fall, solar photovoltaic (PV) technology is seeing an increase in uptake – and a growing part of that increase is on the home front. Because of this, solar likely will maintain its position as the fastest-growing technology in the US energy industry over the next four years, according to Frost & Sullivan’s Analysis of the US Residential Solar Power Market. The report covers the period from 2008 to 2016, with a base year of 2011.

The residential share will experience a compound annual growth rate of 11.9 percent from 2011 to 2016, the company predicted. This segment accounted for 15.2 percent of the annual installations during 2011, or 282 MW; in that year, cumulative PV solar installations in the US reached 4450, and these generated 1855 MW of solar power.


Solar leasing programs are expected to be the main conduit for residential solar system installations through 2016. In terms of residential solar system installation, this chart illustrates the percent installed capacity by distribution channel in the US from 2008 and forecast to 2016.


Solar energy is becoming more affordable to residential customers for a variety of reasons. “In the last two years, the expanded manufacturing capacity in the solar industry, in combination with technological improvements, has lowered the wholesale module prices, making solar panels reasonably priced,” said Georgina Benedetti, senior industry analyst at Frost & Sullivan. US manufacturers also are lowering costs and improving quality in response to competition from Chinese companies, she added.

New financing methods such as solar lease programs and power purchase agreements are helping to break down barriers to residential solar installation, which range from high initial costs to complex installation and maintenance. The expiration of the US Treasury’s 1603 grant program, which involved payment for specified energy property in lieu of tax credit, also could affect the installation of new systems.

To increase sales to residential customers, PV module suppliers might consider providing a one-stop shop for all solutions – including engineering design, installation, maintenance and government grant paperwork, Frost & Sullivan said.

The solar photovoltaic market will earn revenues of $3.04 billion in 2016 – up from $1.73 billion in 2011 – generated from photovoltaic panel sales and installations.


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