California solar installations on track to double in 2009

El Segundo, Calif. — Installations of photovoltaic (PV) solar energy systems in California are set to more than double in 2009 compared to 2008, growing 120.1 percent compared to a 26.9 percent decline in 2008, according to iSuppli Corp. The market researcher attributes the huge growth to incentives from the U.S. stimulus package, according to iSuppli Corp.

iSuppli expects California to outperform the market in 2010 even as global installation growth resumes. The market researcher expects 350 megawatts (MW) worth of solar systems to be installed in California during 2009, while the rest of the country is expected to install only 132 MW in 2009.


“The market for PV solar energy systems has been severely impacted by the ongoing economic crisis gripping the world,” said Dr. Henning Wicht, senior director and principal analyst for PV at iSuppli, in a statement. “The debt financing of solar plants for commercial customers and investor syndicates has slowed dramatically across Europe, the United States and other regions that had been steadily growing in solar installations prior to the fourth quarter of 2008.”

Wicht said companies looking to install PV systems in the country have been helped by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 — also known as the stimulus program — as well as the Solar Investment Tax Credit of 2008. The government programs allowed 30 percent of a project’s cost to be rebated and also created loan guarantees for commercial projects, he said.

iSuppli believes these initiatives will help offset, to a limited degree, the negative factors that have impacted the U.S. PV market.

At the height of the credit crunch in the first quarter, California’s installations increased to 77 MW, up from just 38 MW during the same period in 2008, reports iSuppli. Applications for rebates continued to increase, reaching 65 MW in the second quarter, with only half the quarter counted in this data, said the market researcher.

California isn’t the only region still pushing ahead with plans for PV installations. According to the report, Photovoltaic System Installation Demand in California, Italy Bolster Forecast, the Italian electricity administration authority, Gestione Servizi Electriche (GSE), in April announced that 338 MW had been installed in 2008. This far exceeds the 220 MW that iSuppli originally forecasted for the country. As a result, iSuppli is increasing its Italian forecast for 2009 to 580 MW, up from 350 MW.

According to iSuppli, about 4 gigawatts (GW) worth of new PV systems will be installed worldwide in 2009, with the majority of these installations coming from Germany at 1.5 GW, Italy at 580 MW and another 300 MW to 400 MW coming from Spain, California and Japan each.