comscore Hawaii solar installations up 45% in quarter | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Hawaii solar installations up 45% in quarter

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Solar installations in Hawaii rose 45 percent in the first quarter of 2012 from the same period a year earlier, according to a report from an industry trade group that is forecasting continued strong growth this year.

Hawaii homeowners and businesses installed photovoltaic systems with 14.8 megawatts of generating capacity in the first quarter, the sixth-largest amount of any state, the Solar Energy Industries Association reported Wednesday. The first-quarter increase brings Hawaii’s cumulative PV generating capacity to 97 megawatts to date.

The amount of PV installed in the first quarter is enough to power the equivalent of 3,000 to 3,700 homes. Residential installations represented 7.5 megawatts of the total capacity, while commercial projects accounted for 7.3 megawatts, the SEIA reported.

Nationally, there were 506 megawatts of generating capacity installed during the first quarter, up 85 percent from the first quarter of 2011. New Jersey topped the list with 174 megawatts followed by California with 148 megawatts.

Hawaii is one of the markets with the best growth potental for PV installations potential in 2012, according to the research firm that did the report for the SEIA.

"I would say three markets where we are expecting to see a substantial amount of near-term growth — in the commercial area in particular — are Massachusetts, Hawaii and New York," said Shayle Kann, vice president of research at GTM Research in Boston.

"The Hawaii market is extremely strong thanks to high electricity prices, which means that PV is already at grid parity. So the only bottlenecks come in areas like interconnection," Kann said, referring to limits on the amount of PV that can be hooked into individual circuits on the grid.

The report also said the average cost of an installed PV system dropped by 17 percent nationally in the first quarter of 2012 compared with the same period a year ago. Since the beginning of 2010, the average cost of a PV system has fallen by 30 percent, according to the report.

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