US solar panel demand to surge 20 percent in 2013, report forecasts

Solar panels at the NRG Solar and Eurus Energy America Corp.'s 45-megawatt solar farm in California. (AP Photo/The Sentinel, Apolinar Fonseca, File)
Solar panels at the NRG Solar and Eurus Energy America Corp.’s 45-megawatt solar farm in California. (AP Photo/The Sentinel, Apolinar Fonseca, File)

Some states are spurring growth in solar panel installations in the U.S. with mandates and incentives for homeowners and businesses, a market information and advisory services firm says in a new report.

Domestic demand for solar panels is forecast to grow nearly 20 percent this year compared to 2012, the NPD Group says in its Solarbuzz North America PV Markets Quarterly released this week.

But, the report pointed out that just nine states will account for more than 85 percent of all U.S. solar panel demand this year.

Solar surge: Renewable power generation grew 7 percent in Texas last year

U.S. demand for solar PV, or photovoltaic, panels represents 12 percent of annual global demand, up from 5 percent three years ago, the firm says, adding that a big chunk of the latest growth is coming from California, Arizona, New Jersey and North Carolina.  Texas and New Mexico also are among the states driving growth.

The reason? NPD Group cited mandates in some states that require solar power to meet certain levels of total energy production and incentives that allow homeowners and businesses to install solar panels with low upfront costs.

Figures released last month by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates the power grid for most of the state, show that electric generation from renewable sources increased 7 percent in 2012 in the state. Solar power had the largest rate of growth, based on the data.

In Houston, solar power advocates reported in March that the city has come a long way in encouraging homeowners to go solar, but businesses are lagging behind because tax and financial incentives are insufficient. According to data they released, in 2012, there were 557 solar installations on the books for residential customers, compared to only 54 installations for businesses and other non-residential customers.

Government incentives: Advocates pushing solar for Houston businesses

According to the NPD Group analysis, the solar power momentum  could turn, depending on any policy changes in the small number of states that account for much of the solar panel demand in the U.S.

NP Solarbuzz is part of the NPD Group. It offers upstream and downstream photovoltaic market quarterly reports and other solar energy analysis.

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