It’s Official: Ontario Third in North American 2009 Solar PV Capacity

By Paul Gipe


Finally, it’s official. Last year Ontario was the third largest market for solar photovoltaic (PV) installations in North America.

The Canadian province pushed aside Florida with an installation of 46 MW of solar PV and was only behind New Jersey, 57 MW, and California with 212 MW according to a report by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC).

As a contractor to the US Government, IREC only reports on developments in the US. However, “If Ontario were a U.S. state, it would have ranked third on IREC’s list of states,” said the report.

The report, U.S. Solar Market Trends 2009, found that at the end of 2009 California had a total installed solar PV capacity of 768 MW, New Jersey, 128 MW, and Colorado, 59 MW.

Ontario ranked fourth in total installed North American solar PV capacity with 48 MW.

Outside of California, New Jersey is the second largest market for solar PV in the US. New Jersey’s Clean Energy program estimates that, at the current pace, 125 MW will be installed by year end, bringing total installations to nearly 250 MW.

The Canadian Solar Industry Association (CanSIA) estimates 100 to 200 MW will be installed in Ontario this year. Nearly 100 MW has already been installed, and several large projects, multi-megawatt projects are underway, says CanSIA.

Ontario and New Jersey are neck and neck for the number two slot in the North American solar PV market for installations in 2010. New Jersey will likely retain its second place position in total capacity, at least for this year.

250 MW of solar PV in either New Jersey or Ontario by year end are capable of generating 250 million kWh per year in each region.

The Ontario policy driving development is a fixed-price model while New Jersey is using a quota model with tradable solar renewable energy credits determining how much is paid for solar generation.

IREC, the report’s authors, concluded that 435 MW of solar PV were installed in the US in 2009, bringing total installed capacity to 1,250 MW. The residential market accounted for about one-third of US solar PV capacity in 2009. The utility market accounted for 16% capacity. There are now 104,000 solar PV installations in the US.

For comparison, Germany may install as much as 6,000 MW of solar PV this year, bringing total solar PV capacity to 15,000 MW. By the end of the year there may be as many as one million solar PV systems in the country or then times the number in North America.

In Germany, a generating fleet of 15,000 MW will produce about 15 TWh (15 billion kWh) per year or nearly 3% of Germany’s electricity demand.

U.S. Solar Market Trends 2009 by Larry Sherwood, Interstate Renewable Energy Council, July 2010.