Let’s examine some of the most important factors more closely:
A capacity factor measures the running intensity of a generating unit.
A crucial shift has taken place last year: the average capacity factor of natural gas combined-cycle plants ended up higher than coal power plants.
What does this mean?
For example, a capacity factor approaching 100% tells us that this unit is 1) operating near its maximum possible power output and 2) operating almost constantly. This increase of capacity factor indicates that electricity generation in the United States is shifting towards using a mix of energy sources. In fact, the use of coal steam power plants has experienced a steady decline in the past ten years, while the utilization of natural gas combined-cycle plants is much higher today.
Residential solar is the fastest and most steadily growing market segment with year on year growth well over 50%.
Over the last few years the solar industry has come a long way, as illustrated in the recent SEIA US Market Report. Numerous residential solar installation companies pepper the Inc. 5000 fastest growing companies list, and the successful IPOs of SolarCity and forthcoming Vivint Solar reflect this growth and optimism. We think the best is yet to come.
The megawatt question is where will we see new residential solar growth in the coming year?
In states like California the right mix of policy, market conditions, and consumer interest show how the market can grow quickly and sustainably, and California shows no real signs of slowing. As solar begins to reach the mainstream, and 92% of Americans want more solar, we all want to know which states represent the next wave.
So we did a little data crunching on our own residential solar lead data from the last eight months. We call it the “US Solar Combine”, where States are ranked in three events:
Then we took an aggregate score of all three events to crown the overall champion. You’ll be surprised to see how they stack up.
The first test is brute strength: who’s got the most interested homeowners?
Here we’re looking at the relative percentages of residential solar leads by State in the USA, which is of course heavily influenced by population (bigger states will generally have more leads). So The Golden, The Lone Star, The Sunshine and The Empire states live up to their big names and take the crown as the strongest states by lead volume.
But if California represents about 50% of the residential solar market and only 10% of the lead volume (much more in line with population) then doesn’t this say that people across the country are roughly equally interested in solar?
We think that with the right long-term strategies in place, Texas, Florida and New York would easily rise to become some of the major markets. New York is already taking big steps to become a major solar market, while Florida and Texas have alternated between glimpses of their true potential and stumbling. But the people have spoke, so let them have solar.Continue reading