Solar: Not Just for California Anymore

Todd Woody of Grist Magazine summarizes nicely a recent solar industry report, saying solar power is “not just aCalifornia thing anymore.” More specifically, Woody reports that

[b]ack in 2004-2005, California accounted for a whopping80 percent of the U.S. market. In 2010, that share fell to 30 percent,with 258.9 megawatts of the 878.3 megawatts of photovoltaic powerinstalled that year …

If California’s share of the solar pie is shrinking, it must meanthat other states’ are growing. New Jersey in 2010 maintained its number two spot, installing about 137 megawatts (MW) of solar power — roughlyequal to about 27,400, 5-kilowatt (kW) residential home energy systems.

Other gainers include Nevada, Texas, New Mexico and North Carolina —but note that these states solar markets are dominated by big,utility-scale solar power plants. Residential solar energy systems, inother words, don’t yet make up a meaningful share of the pie in thesestates.

U.S. Solar Energy Capacity Installed, 2010

Credit: U.S. Solar Market Insight: 2010 Year in Review

Why aren’t more Nevada homeownersinstalling solar panels? My guess is that it’s because Nevada — alongwith Texas, North Carolina and New Mexico — doesn’t have in place astatewide residential solar rebate program or similar incentive. Despite a 30-perent solar tax credit from the federal government, homeowners in these states aren’t quite there yet.

Another noteworthy trend is occurring in Pennsylvania, which has gone from a solar zero to solar hero in just a couple of years. In 2009, for example, the Keystone State saw just 3 MW of solar installed. In 2010, that figure rose to forty-seven. The number of Pennsylvania solar panel installations will likely tocontinue to grow.

To sum up, California is still a big pieceof America’s solar energy market. No matter how you slice it, however,other states are stepping up to challenge its claim to first place.

See the full Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research report: U.S. Solar Market Insight: 2010 Year in Review (PDF).

Solar Power ‘Not Just a California Thing Anymore’

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