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According to GTM Research and SEIA’s latest U.S. Solar Market Insight Report, 2,031 MW of PV were installed in the U.S. in Q3 2017. That’s the nation’s lowest quarterly total since Q3 2015. Two of the three market segments tracked by GTM Research and SEIA were down on the quarter and on the year; however, the non-residential segment was the lone standout. The U.S. installed 481 MW of non-residential PV in the third quarter, representing growth of 22% year-over-year.

In Q3 2017, the U.S. market installed 2,031 MWdc of solar PV, of that total, 51% came from the utility PV segment, which added more than 1 GWdc for the eighth consecutive quarter. This figure represents a 51% decrease year-over-year from Q3 2016. Through the end of Q3, installations are tracking 22% behind the pace set through the same period during a record-breaking 2016.

Through the first three quarters of 2017, 25% of all new electric generating capacity brought on-line in the U.S. has come from solar, ranking second over that period only to natural gas.

The residential PV sector fell 10% quarter-over-quarter. Declining growth is driven by weakness in California and major Northeast markets, which continue to feel the impact of pull-back from national providers.

In contrast to residential PV, the non-residential sector grew 22% year-over-year, primarily driven by regulatory demand pull-in from looming policy deadlines in California and the Northeast in addition to the continued build-out of a robust community solar pipeline in Minnesota.

GTM Research forecasts that 11.8 GWdc of new PV installations will come on-line in 2017, down 22% from a record-breaking 2016. Its forecast has been adjusted downward from 12.4 GWdc last quarter to reflect continued challenges in the residential market and a push back in utility-scale completion timelines due to uncertainties surrounding the trade case.

For all of 2017, non-residential PV is the only segment expected to grow on annual basis. The segment’s growth comes from projects rushing to install before rate and incentive structures changes in select markets, along with the continued emergence of community solar, which is on track to grow by more than 50% year-over-year. Meanwhile, residential PV is still expected to fall year-over-year for the first time ever. This downturn is happening even though more than half of all states in the U.S. have now surpassed grid parity.

Meanwhile, the year-over-year downturn for utility PV in 2017 has been softened by projects that pushed out their completion dates from 2016 as a result of the 30% federal Investment Tax Credit extension. These projects that have spilled over into 2017 represent more than 50% of this year’s utility PV forecast. While Q3 was a relatively soft quarter for utility-scale, Q4 is expected to yield 3.9 GWdc of new installations.

Under GTM Research’s base-case outlook, U.S. solar is expected to fall year-over-year again in 2018 before rebounding in 2019, in large part due to trends in utility PV procurement.

Within the distributed PV market, residential solar is expected to resume 10% to 15% annual growth between 2018 and 2022, as customer-acquisition challenges are incrementally addressed and the market’s growth becomes less reliant on a small handful of national installers. Meanwhile, non-residential PV is expected to fall in 2018 due to the aforementioned revisions to state incentive programs, virtual net energy metering rules, and solar-friendly rate structures across major state markets. The segment is expected to resume year-over-year growth in 2019, in large part due to growth in community solar across emerging legislative driven markets, namely New York, Maryland and Illinois.

Total installed U.S. PV capacity is expected to more than double over the next five years and by 2022, nearly 15 GW of PV capacity will be installed annually.

Source: GTM Research

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According to GTM Research and SEIA’s U.S. Solar Market Insight Report, the United States solar market added 2,387 MWdc of new PV capacity in the second quarter of 2017. This is up 8 percent year-over-year. Utility PV accounted for 58% of Q2 2017 installations, which marks the seventh consecutive quarter that the utility-scale space added more than 1 GWdc.

Although all three segments of U.S. solar experienced quarter-over-quarter growth in Q2 2017, non-residential PV is the only segment expected to actually grow on annual basis this year.

 

Non-residential PV is expected to grow 9%, following a record-shattering 58% growth in 2016 after three consecutive years of flat demand before 2016. The continued growth in 2017 is partly due to community solar, which remains on track to add more than 400 MWdc, nearly doubling community solar installations from 2016.

Meanwhile, residential PV is still expected to fall year-over-year for the first time ever, after falling year-over-year for the first time on a quarterly basis in Q1 and Q2 2017. There are several factors behind this downturn. First, segment-wide customer acquisition challenges are constraining growth in major state markets.

Second, national residential solar companies have slowed operations and pursued more profitable sales channels at the expense of growth. Meanwhile, growth in emerging state markets has not made up for weakness across the top 10 state markets, seven of which fell year-over-year in Q2 2017.

Finally, utility solar’s downturn in 2017 has been softened by projects that pushed out their completion dates from 2016 as a result of the 30% federal Investment Tax Credit extension. These projects that have spilled over into 2017 represent more than 50% of this year’s utility PV forecast. Looking ahead, the recovery for utility solar is primarily driven by procurement outside Renewable Portfolio Standards, with more than 75% of the current pipeline coming from voluntary procurement, PURPA, off-site corporate procurement, and California-based community choice aggregators.

Altogether, U.S. solar is expected to fall year-over-year in 2017 and 2018 before rebounding in 2019, in large part due to trends in utility PV procurement. Throughout H1 2017, the majority of utility solicitations have focused on projects that can come on-line with a 30% federal ITC in 2019 or later by leveraging commence-construction rules.

The return to growth in 2019 will also come from a growing number of state markets achieving scale. By 2019, more than half of all states in the U.S. will be at least 100 MW annual state markets.

That demand diversification is a function of distributed and utility solar having reached tipping points in terms of economic attractiveness. For example, more than 30 states will have surpassed grid parity for residential PV. Meanwhile, over two-thirds of the utility PV pipeline comes from projects procured outside renewable portfolio standards, driven by the costcompetitiveness with natural gas alternatives.

Market Segment Trends

Residential PV

563 MWdc installed in Q2 2017
Up 1% from Q1 2017
Down 17% from Q2 2016

Non-Residential PV

437 MWdc installed in Q2 2017
Up 10% from Q1 2017
Up 31% from Q2 2016

Utility PV

1,387 MWdc installed in Q2 2017
7th consecutive quarter in which utility PV added over 1 GWdc
Contracted utility PV pipeline currently totals 23.0 GWdc

Source: GTM Research

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The U.S. solar market is no stranger to PV price declines, and GTM Research expects that trend to continue. Driven largely by reductions in soft costs, pricing for residential, commercial and utility PV will fall by an additional 30, 25 and 20 percent, respectively.

This new report breaks down U.S. residential, commercial and ground-mount PV pricing across 11 distinct hard and soft cost categories.

Furthermore, it identifies areas for cost reductions and details how utility-scale PV will meet the SunShot target of $1.00 per watt by 2020.

Cost categories tracked and forecasted: Module, EBOS, Labor, Permitting & Interconnection, Taxes, Overhead + Margin, Inverter, SBOS, Design & Engineering, Supply Chain, Logistics & Misc., Origination.

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Source: GTM Research

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According to GTM Research and ESA’s latest U.S. Energy Storage Monitor, the U.S. deployed 18.3 MW (21.2 megawatt-hours) of energy storage in the first quarter of 2016. Deployments were up 127 percent year-over-year, but down 84 percent from the historic fourth quarter of 2015.

The first quarter continued the trend of relatively slow starts seen over the last few years. However, residential energy storage was a standout segment both quarterly and annually. More than 8.9 MW were deployed in behind-the-meter applications.

Despite being the smallest market, the residential segment is the most geographically diverse. In the first quarter of the year, the report’s “other markets” segment dominated, with storage deployments being tracked in Kentucky, Nevada, Utah, Vermont and 19 additional states. PJM (excluding New Jersey) continues to lead in terms of utility-scale deployments, and California maintains its top spot in the non-residential segment.

“The slow start to 2016 is not unusual, but also points to the shifting nature of U.S. energy storage market,” said Ravi Manghani, GTM Research’s director of energy storage and lead author of the report. “After the rush to build and commission systems in PJM to meet the interim cap in the second half of 2015, this year is likely to see a move toward California as the leading market even for the utility-scale segment. This transition will undoubtedly be hastened by gas shortages in Southern California caused by the Aliso Canyon gas leakage and resulting energy storage procurement.”

In addition to deployment and pricing trends, the report covers developments in the vendor ecosystem. In early May, oil and gas company Total announced that it would acquire battery vendor Saft for $1.1 billion, the first billion-dollar-plus deal in the storage space. With its previous acquisition of a controlling stake in SunPower, Total has positioned itself for a leadership role in the renewables-plus-storage domain.

GTM Research extended its forecast out to 2021, a year in which the market intelligence firm expects that U.S. energy storage deployments will exceed the 2 GW mark.

“After record-breaking growth in deployments at the end of last year, 2016 first-quarter leading indicators and mounting opportunities are signaling another positive year of storage industry growth,” said Matt Roberts, executive director of the Energy Storage Association. “As we look to the future of storage markets in the U.S., expanded projections of over 2 GW a year by 2021 reflect both the growing value of storage systems on the grid and the immense opportunity ahead.”

 

Source: GTM Research

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Solar power could deliver $400 billion in environmental and public health benefits throughout the United States by 2050, according to a study from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

“We find that a U.S. electric system in which solar plays a major role—supplying 14% of demand in 2030, and 27% in 2050—would result in enduring environmental and health benefits. Moreover, we find that the existing fleet of solar plants is already offering a down-payment towards those benefits, and that there are sizable regional differences in the benefits,” said Ryan Wiser of Berkeley Lab’s Energy Technologies Area.

The total monetary value of the greenhouse-gas and air pollution benefits of the high-penetration solar scenario exceeds $400 billion in present-value terms under central assumptions. Focusing on the existing end-of-2014 fleet of solar power projects, recent annual benefits equal more than $1.5 billion under central assumptions.

The report, The Environmental and Public Health Benefits of Achieving High Penetrations of Solar Energy in the United States, is part of a series of papers published as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s On the Path to SunShot study. The DOE launched the SunShot Initiative in 2011, with the goal of driving down the cost of solar energy so that it was cost-competitive with other forms of electricity by the end of the decade. The new reports take stock of the progress already made, and highlight various barriers and opportunities that remain to achieving SunShot-level cost reductions.

 

Source: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

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The orders are the first Vestas has announced in Brazil in 2016 and consist of six wind farms.

Vestas will supply 86 units of V110-2.0 MW turbines for projects totalling 172 MW located in the state of Bahía in northeastern Brazil. The contracts comprise supply and installation of the wind turbines in compliance with the local content requirements set by the BNDES. Turbine delivery is planned for the second quarter of 2017, whilst commissioning is expected in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Marco Graziano, President of Vestas Mediterranean says that “Today’s orders cover six different sites across Bahía and is a great example of how well-suited the V110-2.0 MW is for Brazil, its wind conditions and geographical span. Brazil was Vestas’ fifth largest market for order intake in 2015, and we have a strategic ambition to grow further there. With our increased presence, order intake and BNDES-accreditation, we are on the right track”.

Vestas has been present in Brazil since 2000 and announced 376 MW in firm orders in 2015. In addition to the sales office in Sao Paulo, Vestas has recently inaugurated a hub and nacelle production facility in Aquiraz (Ceará) as well established a successful partnership for producing blades and generators locally.

Vestas has received a firm and unconditional order in the USA for 100 V110-2.0 MW turbines, totalling 200 MW. The contract includes supply and commissioning of the wind turbines, as well as a five-year customised Active Output Management service agreement. Delivery of the wind turbines is expected to begin in fourth quarter of 2016, with commissioning expected in first quarter of 2017.

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The U.S. energy storage market had its best quarter in two and a half years. According to the latest edition of GTM Research and the Energy Storage Association’s U.S. Energy Storage Monitor, 40.7 MW of energy storage were deployed in the second quarter of the year, a ninefold increase year-over-year. According to the report, the largest driver of the growth was the interconnection of Invenergy´s 31.5-MW Grand Ridge Energy Storage Project in Illinois. It’s the single largest project to come on-line since the fourth quarter of 2012, when the 36-MW Notrees project was interconnected in Texas. The front-of-meter segment accounted for 87 percent of energy storage deployments during the second quarter of the year.

Looking behind the meter, the non-residential market had its best quarter in history, deploying 4.9 MW. A big share of this growth came from California, where the massive pipeline of SGIP-approved projects finally began to be interconnected. The residential market grew an impressive 61 percent over last quarter. However, it’s coming from a much smaller base than the utility and non-residential market segments and represented just 1 percent of the quarter’s deployments.

The majority of energy storage deployed in the United States is concentrated in a few markets. The report notes that California is the largest market for both the residential and non-residential market segments. Since the first quarter of 2013, 1.3 MW of residential and 10.8 MW of non-residential energy storage have been deployed in California.

During the same time period, PJM (excluding New Jersey) saw the deployment of 100 MW of utility-scale storage. That’s more than four times what California, the second-ranked utility-scale market, has deployed since the first quarter of 2013.

According to the report, PJM and California will continue to be regional leaders for storage in the foreseeable future. However, the report is following policies across all U.S. states and highlights exciting advancements in Maryland, Oregon and Washington.

It is promising to see that outside of PJM and California, 10 states had significant activity related to energy storage policies and programs in the last three months,” said Ravi Manghani, GTM Research senior energy storage analyst and lead author of the report. “This is a good sign for the industry, which has leaned on a handful of markets for its growth to date. We have states like Minnesota and Washington that are looking to grow their storage industries, while others like Massachusetts and New Jersey are using storage to modernize the grid and make it more resilient.

The number of different states that are actively engaging in energy storage shows that regulators, legislators and utilities are seeking innovative ways to deploy systems,” said Matt Roberts, executive director of the Energy Storage Association. “Advanced energy storage systems are being leveraged to increase reliability and resiliency in the Northeast, offset the need for ‘peaker plants’ in the Southwest, and help replace capacity and integrate renewables across the West.

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