New Jersey Surpasses California for Commercial Solar Power

According to a report by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), New Jersey has surpassed California as the hottest and largest commercial solar market. According to SEIA, the commercial solar market in New Jersey jumped 170% from the first quarter of this year to the second quarter. As a result, New Jersey’s photovoltaic (PV) installations now account for 24% of all those in the U.S. — up from 15% at the end of March. Nevertheless, California still remains the largest solar market in the U.S. accounting for 94 MW installed capacity in the second quarter of 2011, compared to 75.7 MW installed capacity in New Jersey. However, California’s market share fell to 30% in Q2 while New Jersey’s grew to 24%.

This comes on the heals of what was another incredibly good quarter of growth for the U.S. solar PV market overall. According to SEIA, the U.S. solar PV market saw 314 megawatts of solar power installer in the second quarter of 2011, 69% more than the same period last year and 17% more than the first quarter of 2011. Furthermore, according to SEIA, the U.S. remains poised to install 1,750 megawatts of PV in 2011, double last year’s total and enough to power 350,000 homes. Much of this growth was due to a 30% decline in module prices making it cheaper than ever to invest in solar energy.

“The second quarter data illustrates that the U.S. solar industry continues to be one of the fastest growing in America,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA. “More than 100,000 Americans are employed in solar, twice as many as in 2009. They work at more than 5,000 companies – the vast majority being small businesses – across all 50 states.”

Not all is so rosy, however. The U.S. market share of global installations fell to 5.1%, down from 6.0% in 2009. While the U.S. solar PV market has been growing, it still has not managed to outpace global demand although SEIA expects this to change as solar markets in Germany and Italy cool off substantially. However, this may be offset by uncertainty over the solar rebate/incentive structure in New Jersey and Pennsylvania as well as the expiration of the Section 1603 U.S. Treasury program.