Top 10 States for Grid-tied
Photovoltaic Installations in 2009
2008 rank in parentheses*
State Capacity (megawatts-dc)
1. California (1) 212.1
2. New Jersey ( 2) 57. 3
3. Florida ( 16) 35. 9
4. Colorado ( 3) 23. 4
5. Arizona ( 8) 21.1
6. Hawaii ( 5) 12. 7
7. New York ( 7) 12.1
8. Massachusetts ( 11) 9. 5
9. Connecticut ( 6) 8. 7
10. North Carolina ( 10) 7. 8
All Others 34. 7
* 2008 rankings published in the author’s “Can Incentives Sustain the Solar Boom” article
in the July/August 2009 SOLAR TODAY were based on preliminary numbers and therefore
Despite the recession, annual grid-connected PV installations in the United States grew by 40 percent in
2009, to 435 megawatts DC.
Federal and state financial incentives and
policies continued to be the most important
driver for the market in 2009. Growth was strongest in states with solar-friendly policies, such as
California, New jersey and Colorado. Declining prices of PV modules also encouraged the
growth in installations.
46 July/August 2010 SOLAR TODAY solartoday.org
Residential Installations Pick Up
In 2009, annual grid-connected PV installations in the United States grew by 40 percent,
to 435 megawatts DC (MWDC). The increase
brought cumulative installed grid-connected capacity to 1.25 gigawatts DC (GWDC).
Although those numbers are strong, the annual
growth rate was significantly less than the 61 percent and 84 percent growth experienced in 2007
and 2008, respectively. Still, the capacity of PV
installed in the United States last year was four
times the annual amount installed during 2006.
More than 33,000 sites installed PV in 2009, a
76 percent increase over the number of installations in 2008.
Residential installations were responsible for
a significant portion of that growth. (See Figure
1.) Residential installations accounted for 36
percent of all the capacity of new grid-connected
The drop in the 2008 market share for residential installations was due in part to changes
in the federal investment tax credit (ItC). In
October 2008, the residential ItC was renewed
and the $2,000 cap was removed for residential
installations beginning in january 2009. This
caused some homeowners in the final quarter
of 2008 to delay new installations until 2009
in order to receive a larger federal tax credit,
decreasing the number of residential installations in 2008.
The non-residential sector, which includes
sites such as government buildings, retail stores
and military installations, experienced no growth
in capacity installed in 2009 compared with 2008
installations. This was a dramatic change from
the past several years, when the non-residential
sector had the largest growth rates.
A number of factors led to flat growth in
non-residential installations. First, for most of
2008, the future of the residential and commercial ItC was uncertain. Customers rushed
to install in the last quarter of 2008, resulting
in fewer orders for installation in 2009. When
the ItC was finally renewed in October 2008,
the economy soured and credit markets froze.
Obtaining orders and financing for new projects
was very difficult in this environment. Then,
in February 2009, Congress passed stimulus
legislation, which included the provision for
cash grants instead of tax credits. However, the
rules for this program were not published until
PV systems installed in 2009. The sector’s market share last year was significantly higher than
the 27 percent market share it commanded in
2008 and more in line with its market share from
2005 to 2007.