The California Solar Initiative has an incredible rich data set capturing all solar installations that applied for for the California State Rebate. And it’s available for anyone to download. For free. http://www.californiasolarstatistics.ca.gov/
The downside of the data is that it’s pretty messy. Additionally, the sheer volume of data makes high-level analysis of the data challenging. Taming it with Excel will likely drive you nuts. Having tried several times I’ve finally discovered a far more powerful big-data analysis tool called Tableau. Despite this neat software, my analysis still might include errors. If you spot any or have any comments, please let me know and I’ll try to correct them immediately. The underlying data for the following analysis was downloaded on 11/23/2011.
Over the coming weeks I’ll post one chart per week. You can subscribe to the email list to automatically receive future charts and analysis. Week 1 - Size of the California Solar Industry
This chart shows the total value of all installed solar systems by rebate payment date. Since the completion date is often not available, using the rebate payment date is the next best alternative for estimating the total size of industry. Why am I not using the rebate reservation date? The main reasons are that some companies in the industry see significant drop off between rebate reservation and actual installation due to cancellations. Additionally, from a financial perspective the installation date is more relevant since it's when companies can generally recognize revenues.
In 2011 the total installation value in California will top $1.5 billion and industry will have grown by 50% from 2010. It’s important to note that these figures often do not include financing costs. And this data also doesn’t include installations in California outside the three main utilities. For example, installations in LADWP or SMUD would not be captured. But this chart provides a good ballpark number of how large the solar industry is in the biggest solar market in the US.