Uncertainty To Cast Shadows On Solar In 2012

NPD Solarbuzz has recently released its newest North America PV Markets Quarterly report, which forecasts that the North American solar market is expected to triple in size by 2015. Falling prices for PV modules are expected to continue to stimulate demand in the U.S. and Canada, but policy and regulatory uncertainty will slow industry growth in 2012.

According to the report, the North American PV market is forecast to grow 33 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011, with more than 0.8 gigawatts (GW) of new PV capacity, and a total demand of over 2.2 GW in 2011. California, with 21 percent of market share, remains the largest single market, followed by Ontario (16%) and New Jersey (11%). The primary drivers of the market have been incentive programs, including Ontario’s feed-in tariff (FIT), and a combination of state and federal policies and programs in the U.S., including the section 1603 federal cash grant and the California Solar Initiative, the largest state-level incentive program.

image via Shutterstock

Uncertainty in the market is being created by several factors. First, Ontario’s FIT is currently under review; and expectations are that the rates will decline. In the U.S., projects currently under construction will continue to make progress, but the looming scheduled expiration of the 1603 federal cash grant is expected to significantly slow new growth.

The report also shows that Chinese manufacturers and project developers have already started to delay shipments and installations in response to the SolarWorld trade dispute, as they wait for the price of solar modules to bottom-out.

Lauren Craig is a writer and consultant living in Seattle, WA. She holds an M.S. in International Development from Tulane University, and is co-founder of Sustainable Systems Integrators, LLC., an employee-owned solar energy design and installation firm in New Orleans, LA. She is also certified in PV design and installation by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).