Following reductions in feed-in-tariffs across Europe, the rapid rise in the photovoltaic project pipeline in the US market now represents oneof the most compelling PV market growth opportunities anywhere in theworld.
According to the July 2011 edition of the United StatesDeal Tracker database released by Solarbuzz today, the USnon-residential photovoltaic (PV) pipeline now exceeds 17 gigawatts(GW). This total comprises 601 projects ranging from 50 kilowatts (kW)to 500 megawatts (MW) in size, with planned installation dates from2H’11 to 2015.
In total, the United States Deal Tracker nowlists 1,565 non-residential projects totaling 20.3 GW either installed,being installed or in their development phase since January 1, 2010. Inthe development phase are projects pre-RFP, going through the RFPprocess or are planned without RFP.
California currently accounts for 62 percent of the total US project pipeline, stimulated by thestate’s aggressive 33 percent Renewable Portfolio Standard target. State Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) policies have been a major driver in building the pipeline in leading states. The top six state pipelines in megawatt terms are California, Arizona, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexicoand Texas while, in total, 40 states contribute to the pipeline.
The fast developing non-residential segment has created an important andgrowing opportunity for project developers, engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) companies. The top 12 project developers currentlyaccount for 49 percent of the total pipeline.
Fig. 1. US Non-Residential PV Project Pipeline by State
The collapse in US factory-gate module prices over the past four months isonly now starting to impact large project prices. Installed systemprices for planned projects above 1 MW have an average price of $4.50/WDC. 32% of these projects exhibit prices below $4.00/W DC.
“Withthe overall US market size forecast around 2 GW in 2011, there remainssignificant challenges for the 17 GW in the pipeline,” said CraigStevens, President, Solarbuzz. “Most notably, these include aligningproject structure with financing sources, overcoming regulatorychallenges and taking full advantage of recent price movements in themarket to procure the best mix of PV system components.”
Forthose projects in the pipeline that have selected their modulesuppliers, the top three suppliers in MW terms are First Solar, SunPower Corporation and Suntech Power. The leading inverter suppliers to thepipeline are Advanced Energy and SatCon Technology.