PV price cuts spur US pipeline surge

2011’s summer price slashing at PV module suppliers has injected some energy into the US photovoltaic project development pipeline, shows Solarbuzz. The US non-residential pipeline went from stagnant at 17GW to overflowing at 24GW.

September 12, 2011 — 2011’s summer price slashing at PV module suppliers has injected some energy into the US photovoltaic project development pipeline, shows Solarbuzz research. The US non-residential pipeline went from stagnant at 17 gigawatts (GW) two months ago to overflowing at 24GW.

The Solarbuzz United States Deal Tracker September 2011 database edition identifies 1865 non-residential projects totaling 25.9GW in development or partly/fully installed since January 1, 2010. Development phase projects are eith pre-RFP, going through RFP, or planned without RFP.

The majority of the pipeline is in California: currently 61% of the total (see the figure), thanks to California’s 33% Renewable Portfolio Standard target. The top 6 pipelines by MW are in California, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, New Jersey, and New Mexico, though 44 states have PV projects in the works. The US pipeline also got a boost from high-profile solar projects switching from concentrated solar power (CSP) to PV-based production, such as the Blythe Project.

Utility-scale solar PV projects are pursued in 35 states. The 4-month-long decline of US factory-gate module prices is now impacting utility-scale project prices. One-fifth of the installed system prices above 1MW are now $3.75/watt STC DC (Standard Test Conditions, Direct Current) or below. Expectations for better pricing, measured in per watt peak or kilowatt hour, “vastly increased over the past quarter” in this sector, says Craig Stevens, president, Solarbuzz.

Non-residential projects below 1MW make up 771 of the 1865 projects. These projects are seeing less of an effect from the summer price slump than utility-scale installs.

Project developers and engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) companies are taking note of the opportunities in solar PV projects: the top 12 project developers currently account for 51% of the total pipeline.

Top PV module suppliers to the pipeline (by MW):

  • First Solar
  • SunPower Corporation
  • Suntech Power

Growing presence:

  • Yingli Green
  • Sharp
  • SolarWorld

Top inverter suppliers:

  • Advanced Energy
  • SatCon Technology

The Solarbuzz United States Deal Tracker reports project activity in the non-residential (including utilities) segment. The parameters in the database for each installation include owner or host name, project developer, installer, system size (MWp and first year MWh), installed system pricing, system type (ground mount, roof mount, BIPV, tracking, carports), acreage, PPA provider, electricity off-taker, city, county, state, utility territory, timing of installation, module and inverter suppliers, installer and project developer contact details.

Solarbuzz, part of The NPD Group, is a globally recognized market research business focused on solar energy and photovoltaic industries. For more information, visit www.solarbuzz.com.

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