New Jersey reaches 2 GW of installed solar

Image: ACE NY Flickr. License CC-by-2.0

New Jersey regulators are reporting that the state reached 2 gigawatts (GW) of installed solar capacity some time in late December, during a year when the market rebounded from a three-year lull.

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) says that the state installed 353 MW over the course of 2016, which is a near doubling of the market over the 193 MW installed last year and more than any year since 2012.

This is in market contrast to preliminary figures published by pv magazine and SRECTrade, which suggested a slowdown in the second half of the year. NJBPU had warned at the time that their figures were subject to being updated with more capacity and 31 MW of additional projects were added in the month of October alone. This meant that there was no slowdown in the second half of the year, and lower SREC prices do not appear to have dampened the market in that timeframe.

New Jersey has the fourth-largest installed capacity of any state in the nation, behind California, North Carolina and Arizona. But unlike these three states, more than 3/4 of New Jersey’s installed capacity is behind the meter. Of the nearly 66,000 installed PV systems, the average size is only 30 kW. More than 60,000 are residential systems, and all but 152 are on the distribution grid.

This larger portion of “behind the meter” systems is one reason that the state is not experiencing significant challenges in integrating all of this solar. While a few distribution circuits have had to decline new interconnection requests, or are only accepting smaller systems, in general few problems are being reported.

New Jersey’s 2 GW of installed solar meets roughly 3% of the state’s electricity demand. pv magazine sources suggest that the state is unlikely to have serious issues integrating solar until it reaches at least 10% of demand, but also note that the technology of grid integration of renewables is likely to be more advanced by that time.