Solar installations in the United States are booming, with 2015 predicted to be the best year so far for solar energy, and the last quarter of the year is expected to be a record-breaker, according to data from the latest US Solar Market Insight Report from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
According to the report, the US installed some 1,361 MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity in the third quarter of 2015, marking the eighth consecutive quarter that the US has installed more than 1 GW of solar PV capacity. That’s a huge jump from the solar installation figures from just a few short years ago, and this increase in capacity is only the beginning, as the cost of solar panels continues to drop, accompanied by reductions in the so-called soft costs of solar installation.
For the current period, the fourth quarter of 2015, the report from GTM Research predicts that it will be “the largest quarter for solar installations in U.S. history,” with the utility-scale solar sector expected to install more than 3 GW of solar capacity.
“This past quarter marked the calm before the storm. The one-gigawatt mark for quarterly capacity additions will serve as a distant floor as project developers ramp up installations in the next five quarters before the planned step down of the 30 percent federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC).” – Cory Honeyman, GTM Research Senior Solar Analyst
Utility-scale solar installations account for about 42% of the nation’s solar capacity, and residential installations make up 41% of the total, with the home solar installation figures for the third quarter of 2015 showing a growth of 69% in year-over-year comparisons.
The 2015 US solar PV market as a whole is expected to reflect a 19% growth over 2014’s figures, and the report also predicts that the cumulative solar installations will “nearly double” from now through the end of 2016, which will equal an expected cumulative installed solar capacity in the US of 41 GW.
“Year after year, we’re seeing the demand for solar energy in America skyrocket, and the benefits that brings to both our nation’s economy and environment are staggering. As we gear up for what’s expected to be an unprecedented year for our industry, and nation, this report reveals just how important it is to maintain smart, effective, forward-looking public policies, like the ITC.” – Rhone Resch, SEIA President and CEO
Other key highlights of the latest US Solar Market Insight report include:
- During the first three quarters of 2015, solar installations accounted for 30% of all new electric generating capacity brought online in the US
- More than 50% of all US states have more than 50 MW (DC) of cumulative solar PV capacity installed as of Q3 2015
- The current utility-scale solar PV development pipeline totals 18.7 GW of capacity, which is more than the total of all of the solar PV installations brought online through the end of 2014
- Concentrating solar power saw its largest year ever in 2014, with 767 MW (AC) brought online, and will grow significantly again next year as SolarReserve’s 110 MW (AC) Crescent Dunes project comes online in early 2016
- Non-residential solar will dip by 5% for the second straight year, even as both residential and utility solar PV sectors are expected to grow.
Top image: minoru karamatsu