2010 California Solar Initiative Photovoltaic installs increased by 12.1%

California Solar Initiative (CSI) Residential Photovoltaic (PV) installations increased 33.8% to 79.5 MW (MegaWatt).
CSI Non-Residential Photovoltaic installs decreased 5.19% to 73 MW.

On Wednesday, January 5, 2011, the California Solar Initiative (CSI) released the last week of 2010 data for PV installations on the California Solar Statistics website. As “the official public reporting site of the California Solar Initiative (CSI)”, California Solar Statistics provides unrivaled transparency into CSI application and installation progress with weekly updates.

With even iSuppli expecting global photovoltaic installations to double to 15.8 GW (GigaWatt) in 2010, CSI only managed a scant 12.1% increase to 152.5 MW in 2010 from 136.1 MW in 2009. The “Go Solar, California! Newsletter – January 2011” said:

In 2010, California’s solar demand soared to over 465 megawatts (MWs) of new solar rebate applications, an increase of 286% over applications in 2009.

In reality, 2010 CSI Applications increased almost 187% to 465.3 MW from 162.2 MW in 2009. For example, a 200% increase would have implied applications tripled to 486.6 MW, which was not achieved.

Residential PV
Buoyed by the uncapped 30% Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit and reasonable rebates per the CSI Trigger Tracker, 2010 CSI Residential PV installations increased 33.8% to 79.5 MW (MegaWatt) from 59.4 MW in 2009 and surpassed Non-Residential installations. Residential PV applications increased 58.5% to 104.1 MW compared to 65.7 MW in 2009.

Non-Residential PV
Since California Non-Residential Solar installs lag, Non-Residential PV installations completed in 2010 closed the gap but did not equal the 2009 mark of 77 MW and decreased 5.19% to 73 MW as shown in the California Non-Residential Solar Installations chart.


However, 2010 Non-Residential PV applications near quadrupled to 361.3 MW increasing 275% from 96.3 MW in 2009 as shown in the California Non-Residential Solar Applications chart. As predicted, the April 2010 Non-Residential application spike has not had a huge impact on 2010 installations but active projects should be completed in the first half of 2011.


The contraction in 2010 Non-Residential PV installations cannot be explained by uncertainty over the Treasury Grant extension or waning Performance Based Incentives (PBI). Besides permitting and interconnection, California centric issues may be to blame here including the state’s long term economic outlook, budget crisis, and gubernatorial election plus voter referendums Proposition 16 and Proposition 23 confusing the renewable energy landscape.

Exiting 2010, the PG&E Non-Residential Program Reaches Incentive Budget Cap was the news on December 24, 2010, joining San Diego’s California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) in implementing an incentive waitlist for new Non-Residential PV applications. In both cases, the Non-Residential budget has fallen short of the CSI MegaWatt capacity goals for Steps 9 and 10 because of Commercial versus Government / Non-Profit mix assumptions and higher than expected system performance. As noted in the CSI January 2011 newsletter:

The residential sector is not affected at this time, CSI PAs are still accepting and providing reservations for all residential solar incentive applications. Furthermore, nonresidential incentives in SCE territory are still available, although these incentives are nearing Step 8 levels, as SCE has more megawatts currently under review (28.5 MW) than it has remaining (15.33 MW) in Step 7.

I expect project developers will focus new CSI Non-Residential PV applications on the Southern California Edison (SCE) territory until that budget is also exceeded.

Will the 361.3 MW pipeline of 2010 Non-Residential PV applications combined with the Treasury Grant extension drive a doubling, tripling, or quadrupling of California Non-Residential PV installations in 2011?

The Post-CSI PV market has already begun.


  1. admin says:

    The CSI “Go Solar, California! Newsletter – January 2011” was corrected to reflect a 186% (rounds up to 187%) increase in solar rebate applications after I brought it to their attention.

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