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  • Wednesday, August 15, 2012


    California forecast to lead US to self-sustaining PV as dependency on incentives diminishes

    Junko Movelian, 8 August 2012 (PV Tech)

    “By 2016, the federal 30% Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and the California Solar Initiative (CSI), the nation’s largest ratepayer funded program, will have expired…Can the US PV industry be weaned off government subsidies and therefore become self-sustaining?...The US PV market has experienced steady growth through diversified and innovative policies and regulations...[which has made it] less vulnerable, and less dependent, on a single national incentive program…[It] has avoided some of the boom-and-bust PV demand cycles seen recently in European countries such as Spain and the Czech Republic…[dependent on] a feed-in tariff (FiT) type program]…

    “…[California] represented 63% of the national market (140MW)...[when] the CSI was initiated in 2006…[It had] a 10-year commitment not only to install 3GW of distributed solar generation capacity across the state, but also to drive down the cost of solar generated power and establish a self-sufficient solar industry…[I]ncentive levels are automatically reduced over the duration of the program in ten steps, based on the market demand (MW volume of confirmed reservations issues)…creating predictability and stability…”

    “…[I]ncentive levels have been coming down as the market has grown and installed system cost has come down…There is a 93% correlation between installed system cost and rebate amount; as the system installed cost is lowered, so does the incentive level…By the end of Q2’12, the CSI had supported 980 MW-DC of installed capacity…While there is a distinct possibility that the program will end before 2016, California is however already preparing to exist without any state-level incentives…

    “…[S]hort-term programs may now create market expansion, followed mainly by market regression…[T]he US PV market has…experienced two setbacks…The 30% ITC became available originally in 2006…During 2008, the industry was left waiting nervously, not knowing whether the ITC would be extended. This caused a surge in PV installations. In December 2008, the government extended the ITC for 8 years…[and] the market growth then slowed…Similarly, the recent expiry of the Federal Cash Grant caused a surge in installations at the end of 2011, in order to qualify for the grant in time. It is anticipated that the market in 2012 will see considerably slower growth…”


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