In 2010, the market value of all residential solar installed in the U.S. was just shy of $1.8 billion. Once tallied, the 2011 dollar amount will be substantially larger. According to data collected by GTM Research, there are well over 2,000 experienced residential installers fighting for a piece of this $2-billion-plus pie. This highlights the question, who gets the biggest slice? With the explosion of third-party-owned systems in many of the larger state markets, the results are actually quite unsurprising.
Source: GTM Research
Throughout the first three quarters of 2011, SolarCity reigned supreme with an immense 15% of national market share. This is nearly a full 10% higher than its next closest competitor, Real Goods Solar. This is especially impressive considering that at the end of 2010, SolarCity was virtually even with REC Solar as the largest residential installer, with both firms taking around 5.5% of the market. Much of SolarCity’s capacity comes from its operations in Western states, primarily California and Arizona. Over the last year and a half, though, the company has pushed aggressively into new states, including established markets such as Colorado, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, as well as promising growth markets such as Hawaii, Maryland and Massachusetts. Like nearly all of its top competitors, SolarCity offers residential solar systems with zero money down and an easy-to-understand residential lease structure. What sets the company apart is aggressive marketing and advertising. To Americans not in the solar industry, SolarCity is likely one of the most recognizable names in the business, in addition to SunPower and the late Solyndra.