12GW Solar PV Backlog in US Confirms Growth Promise

The solar photovoltaic (PV) project order backlog for the US market has soared past 12 gigawatts (GW), according to the latest edition of the Solarbuzz United States Deal Tracker report. While the PV industry is facing the effects of large cuts in feed-in tariffs (FIT) across Europe, the order backlog in the US confirms that the country will be one of the most promising growth markets over the next 24 months. The US market doubled in size in 2010 and is forecast to do so again in 2011.

The April edition of the United States Deal Tracker logs over 375 non-residential projects in the US project pipeline being planned or going through a Request for Proposal process. It also includes an additional 775 projects that total 0.7 GW of PV systems either installed or being installed since January 1, 2010.

Figure. Non-residential projects by system size (2010-2015), based on total number of projects, not MW. Source: Solarbuzz April 2011 United States Deal Tracker.

Figure. Non-residential projects by system size (2010-2015), based on total number of projects, not MW. Source: Solarbuzz April 2011 United States Deal Tracker.


Non-residential PV systems in the US market range from just 50 kilowatts up to hundreds of megawatts. Even with the growing utility presence in the market, the corporate and government sub-segments still have 76% of the completed projects since January 1, 2010.

Utility-scale projects under development are found in 29 states, but four states account for 80% of this total, measured in terms of MW.

This segment is increasingly being serviced by specialist project developers, but also directly by major cell and module manufacturers acting in that role. The top 10 developers account for 57% of the utility pipeline in MW 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.”

Top 10 states for non-residential projects:

  • California
  • New Jersey
  • Massachusetts
  • Pennsylvania
  • Arizona
  • Texas
  • Colorado
  • North Carolina
  • Nevada
  • Florida

Over 260 different installation companies are servicing the identified 1150 non-residential projects that buy their modules either directly from manufacturers or through distributors. First Solar, Suntech Power, Sharp, Yingli Green Energy, and SolarWorld are the most represented module manufacturers in this segment.

The installed system pricing data shows that the largest US projects are now being completed in the range of $3-4 per watt DC. Dropping non-residential PV system prices is key to stimulating US market growth.

The Solarbuzz United States Deal Tracker report tracks installed system prices by project across the country, including the fast growing utility segment — providing price transparency to aid bid responses by the solar industry and for the purchasers of systems. The parameters in the database for each installation include owner or host name, project developer, installer, system size, system type (ground mount, roof mount, BIPV, tracking and carports), Power Purchase Agreement provider, city and state, timing of installation and installed pricing data.

Solarbuzz, part of The NPD Group, is a globally recognized market research business focused on solar energy and photovoltaic industries. The NPD Group is the leading provider of reliable and comprehensive consumer and retail information for a range of industries. 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. For more information, visit www.solarbuzz.com.

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