Region set for more than 60% growth in 2012; Downstream companies will need to adapt to changes in end-market

North American Utility-Scale Photovoltaic Installations Surge in Q4'11

Contributed by | SolarBuzz News

Sharp reductions in market prices combined with the impact of regional and national policies pushed the North American photovoltaic (PV) market to a new quarterly peak with 0.93 GW installed in Q4’11, according to the latest North American PV Markets Quarterly report issued by NPD Solarbuzz. The solar incentive policy mix in both the United States and Canadian markets drove up demand in large-scale ground-mount systems, which was 59% of this total. Regionally, the New Jersey, California, Arizona, and Ontario accounted for two-thirds of Q4’11 demand.

In the US, the expiration of the Federal Cash Grant caused an acceleration of project activity to qualify for the end-year deadline. The Cash Grant was instrumental, supporting 1 GW of PV capacity by the end of 2011. At the state level, the California Solar Initiative (CSI), the nation’s largest ratepayer funded program, received additional funding of $200 million during Q4’11, enabling it to address a long waiting list for customer-side distributed generation.

Following the raising of its Renewable Portfolio Standard target, California has started implementing several programs that will stimulate wholesale distributed generation projects between 1 and 20 MW. On the other hand, continuation of New Jersey’s strong Q4’11 growth is under threat due to over-supply of Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SREC). Both New Jersey and Pennsylvania failed to enact legislation to fix the SREC over-supply by revising their RPS solar obligations.

In 2012, US demand growth will be supported by a 25 GW non-residential and utility project pipeline. This includes projects that qualified for the Cash Grant, which will only ship and be installed this year. Residential demand is forecast to grow modestly in 2012, stimulated by lower system prices and lease financing programs, but held back by declining market prices in the five key states that have met their RPS requirements.

Figure 1: North American Share by Photovoltaic Market Segment

Source: NPD Solarbuzz North American PV Markets Quarterly report
BM = building-mounted

There will be more restructuring in downstream channels due to changes in end market segment mix. Residential demand, fragmented into small state markets, will cause larger downstream companies to exit this market segment while new entrants in the project developer role seek to bring the huge non-residential and utility project pipeline to market.

“The key uncertainties on the rate of US demand growth in 2012 relate to the impact of the end of the Federal Cash Grant and approval timetables for large utility scale projects together with the market impact of states that have met their RPS,” said Junko Movellan, NPD Solarbuzz Senior Analyst. “In 2011, the pace of market price reductions was accelerated by the growth in Chinese module supply. The uncertainty caused by the Chinese anti-dumping case started to reshape supply and pricing in Q4’11; the ruling will shape the 2H’12 supply mix.”

In Canada, large-scale projects completed during Q4’11 had been approved under Ontario’s previous incentive program, RESOP. In contrast, the newer FIT program has been most successful in spurring approximately 100 MW of smaller scale residential and non-residential projects during 2011. Large-scale systems under the FIT have been slow to start, due mainly to delays in regulatory and program-related approvals. However, advancement in other areas—project financing and execution of product supply agreements—is evidence that these projects are well advanced, and most are positioned for installation during 2012.

“The biggest uncertainty in the Canadian market continues to revolve around the outcomes of the Ontario FIT program review that started in October 2011,” said Michael Barker, NPD Solarbuzz Analyst. ”2012 demand projections are dependent on the retention of the key elements of the existing program structure, but anticipate rates falling between 10% and 30% in concert with greater specificity on technology or customer-type goals.”

The latest North America PV Markets Quarterly report brings together a comprehensive and detailed analysis of country and state/provincial-level policy developments as well as in-depth analysis of trends in unique customer segments. PV market activity over the 12 quarters of 2011-2013 in the United States and Canada is covered in terms of market drivers and constraints, market segmentation, policy developments and their impact on the market, downstream trends, major project activity, installed system pricing, and PV project investment economics. The North America PV Markets Quarterly report includes a 130-page PowerPoint report, an Excel data summary, and Policy Tracker, which is a comprehensive Excel-based database showcasing each country’s incentive policies.

For more information or to order NPD Solarbuzz regional reports, contact us at one of our seven global locations, email us at, or call 1.516.625.2452.

About NPD Solarbuzz
NPD Solarbuzz, part of The NPD Group, is a globally recognized market research business focused on solar energy and photovoltaic industries. Since 2001, NPD Solarbuzz has grown its client-base to include many of the largest global PV manufacturers, major investment banks, equipment manufacturers, materials suppliers, hedge fund companies, and a vast range of other multi-nationals. NPD Solarbuzz offers a wide array of reports, including Marketbuzz, an annual global PV industry report, and Solarbuzz Quarterly, which details both historical and forecast data on the global PV supply chain. The company’s research also provides annual downstream PV market reports by region for Europe, Asia Pacific and US markets. In addition, is a recognized and respected online resource within the solar industry. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter at @Solarbuzz.

About The NPD Group, Inc.
The NPD Group is the leading provider of reliable and comprehensive consumer and retail information for a wide range of industries. Today, more than 1,800 manufacturers, retailers, and service companies rely on NPD to help them drive critical business decisions at the global, national, and local market levels. NPD helps our clients to identify new business opportunities and guide product development, marketing, sales, merchandising, and other functions. Information is available for the following industry sectors: automotive, beauty, commercial technology, consumer technology, entertainment, fashion, food and beverage, foodservice, home, office supplies, software, sports, toys, and wireless. For more information, contact us or visit and Follow us on Twitter at @npdtech and @npdgroup.

Solarbuzz and Marketbuzz are registered trademarks of The NPD Group.

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