The pipeline of solar photovoltaic (PV) projects awaiting completion within the U.S. has grown by 7% during the past 12 months, according to a new report from NPD Solarbuzz. It now exceeds 43 gigawatts (GW)—enough to power more than six million U.S. households. While large projects in excess of 100 megawatts (MW) previously dominated the U.S. PV pipeline, growth is now being driven by smaller projects up to 30 MW in size, according to the report. The growing project pipeline remains a key factor in driving the positive outlook for the U.S. PV industry, which is now forecast to become the third-largest solar PV market globally in 2014, after China and Japan.

“The increase in new solar PV projects being planned or under construction is driving double-digit annual growth forecasts for PV adoption within the U.S,” said Michael Barker, senior analyst. “Large-scale PV projects exceeding 20 MW continue to dominate the pipeline, in terms of installed capacity, stimulated by state-based renewable portfolio mandates. Projects of all sizes have become increasingly viable, due to declines in solar PV system pricing in the past year.”

Developers of solar PV projects in the U.S. are now being forced to transition more quickly from pre-planning and planning stages to under-construction or installed status. This transition is reportedly motivated by deadlines to qualify for the full U.S. Investment Tax Credit (ITC) of 30%.

“With just three years remaining until the full tax credit incentive rate declines, solar PV project developers in the U.S. are now planning to complete projects, or have a significant portion under construction, prior to the 2017 deadline,” said Christine Beadle, analyst. “This deadline is causing a shift in focus to smaller projects that can be completed on shorter timescales.”

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