The ups and downs of the US solar power market

Over the past quarter the US solar power market has seen some losses and some gains. Most notably, the utilities market for solar power grew by 42% compared to Q1 2013.

In their second quarter report on the US solar industry, GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association found that while utilities ramped up demand, residential and commercial markets disappointed.

Business installations of photovoltaic (PV) systems – which convert sunlight directly into electricity – have shrunk by 11% so far this year while household demand stagnated.

Overall installations grew by 15% compared to Q1 2013.

"While we anticipate a resumption of growth in the second half of the year led by states such as New York and California, the commercial segment will need to gain steam in order to meet most market participants’ expectations," the executive summary noted.

Meanwhile, the study found zero new concentrated solar power (CSP) system installations for 2013 – though the group remains bullish.

Researchers also noted that the second quarter is "often somewhat lumpy" with demand rising by 33% in Q2 2011 but shrinking 30% in Q2 2012.

California maintained its number one position for number of PV installations, followed by Arizona.

"Overall, Q2 2013 was somewhat softer than expected," the report reads. "But anecdotal evidence combined with preliminary data suggest that Q3 will be substantially stronger."

By the end of 2013, the group anticipates the US' share of global solar installations to reach 13% – up from 5% in 2008.

If reached, this figure would represent one new solar project every four minutes.