Demand in the U.S. market can be viewed in a variety of ways: by state, by customer segment, by size, or by application segment. Each of these can reveal different aspects of how the market operates because each has unique drivers, suppliers, and growth potential. In terms of application segmentation, growth rates have varied widely between building-mount and ground-mount. While growth rates vary by state, for the U.S. as a whole, over the past few years, ground-mount installations have outpaced building-mount by a significant margin in all but a few quarters.
A key factor behind the growth of the ground-mount segment is the continued development of large-scale utility projects. Recent data in the US Deal Tracker highlight a new trend where projects previously designed as building-mount have shifted to ground-mounted carport structures. The continued attractiveness of these projects is expected to result in strong growth in the ground-mount segment through the rest of 2014.
However, risks remain in the U.S. market, particularly for the ground-mount segment. One of the main risks is increased installed-system-prices (ISPs) due to tariffs imposed on Chinese modules. Many of the large-scale ground-mount projects have bid PPA contracts at very aggressive rates, and are particularly susceptible to price pressure.
The upcoming North America PV Conference on 6 August 2014 in San Jose, California, will examine how the global trade wars may impact large-scale project development in the U.S. and other markets.
Figure 1: Trailing-twelve month (ttm) growth rates in US by application segment
Source: Adapted from NPD Solarbuzz North America PV Markets Quarterly, June 2014