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California Solar Photovoltaic Statistics & Data

Solar Photovoltaics 1981 through 1997

Utilities in California kept relatively incomplete records for grid-connected, solar electricity (PV) systems prior to 1998. The earliest date where some data was collected was 1981 when an estimated 37 kilowatts of capacity were on roof tops in California. Off-grid PV systems are even harder to estimate except for anecdotal information from companies and industry associations. Thus data is not available for off-grid applications.

The increases in 1984 and 1986 were because of large utility-scale solar projects installed by the Sacramento Utility District and the 650 kilowatt PV-USA solar test facility in Davis, California.

Solar PVs got a boost in 1992 when the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) began its Solar Pioneers program. Initially, customers volunteered roof space for SMUD-owned solar equipment. The utility then got into the business of selling PV systems to customers, both residential and commercial. Thus at the end of 2006, the installed capacity of grid-connected PV systems was 5.4 megawatts.

Capacity of Grid-Connected PV Systems
Installed by Year 1980-1996


1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989
Kilowatts Installed n/a 37 38 11 1,145 15 971 0 4 59
Cumulative Total
(kilowatts)
n/a 37 75 86 1,231 1,245 2,217 2,217 2,221 2,280
 
1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
Kilowatts Installed15 17 489 806 458 128 854 418 See ERP
& SGIP
Cumulative Total
(kilowatts)
2,295 2,312 2,801 3,606 4,064 4,193 5,046 5,465