New SEIA research shows continued rapid growth for solar generation

Continuing on its record-breaking trajectory, the U.S. solar industry surpassed 20 GW (dc) of total operational solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity during the second quarter of this year, according to GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association’s (SEIA) Q2 2015 U.S. Solar Market Insight Report.

The U.S. installed 1,393 MW (dc) of PV last quarter, showcasing both annual and quarterly growth, the SEIA said in a Sept. 8 statement.

The residential solar market set yet another quarterly record in the second quarter. With 473 MW (dc) installed, the segment grew 70% year-over-year. On top of that, the residential market is diversifying, with 10 states each installing more than 10 MW (dc) in the quarter. This shows significant growth from the same quarter of 2013 when only four states installed that much residential solar, the association noted.

The non-residential market finished the quarter down 33% from the same period last year. However, the ongoing growth of community solar across the U.S., along with improving market dynamics in several states and continued financial innovation, suggest stronger growth in this segment in the second half of 2015 and beyond. 

According to the report, 729 MW (dc) of utility-scale solar PV came on-line in the second quarter of the year, representing more than half – 52% – of the nation’s quarterly total. With the federal solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) scheduled to drop at the end of 2016, utility-scale development is at an all-time high with more than 5 GW (dc) of capacity currently under construction.

“The utility PV market continues to be the bedrock driver of new installation growth. And in the second half of this year through 2016, growth will reach new heights as a higher share of what comes online stems from projects procured purely based on centralized solar’s cost competitiveness,” said Shayle Kann, Senior Vice President at GTM Research.

The U.S. installed 2.7 GW (dc) of PV in the first six months of 2015. With significant growth expected in the second half of the year, the U.S. is on pace for a record-breaking 7.7 GW (dc) year.

“The demand for solar energy is now higher than ever and this report spells out how crucial it is for America to maintain smart, effective, forward-looking public policies, like the ITC, beyond 2016,” said Rhone Resch, SEIA President and CEO. “At over 20 GW of installed solar electric capacity, we now have enough solar in the U.S. to power 4.6 million homes, reducing harmful carbon emissions by more than 25 million metric tons a year. Since the ITC was passed in 2006, U.S. solar growth has exploded and more than 150,000 American solar jobs have been created. By any measurement, that’s a success for both our economy and environment.”

Additional key findings include:

  • The U.S. installed 1,393 MW (dc) of solar PV in Q2 2015, marking the seventh consecutive quarter in which the U.S. added more than 1 GW of PV installations.
  • Q2 2015 was a milestone quarter for the U.S. solar PV market, with cumulative installations eclipsing the 20 GW (dc) mark.
  • Throughout the first half of 2015, 40% of all new electric generating capacity brought on-line in the U.S. came from solar.
  • 21 states have now added more than 100 MW (dc) of solar PV, but the top five states still account for nearly three-fourths of cumulative U.S. PV installations.
  • 40% of the 16.6 GW (dc) utility PV pipeline in development has been procured primarily due to solar’s economic competitiveness with fossil-fuel alternatives.
  • The forecast is that PV installations will reach 7.7 GW (dc) in 2015, up 24% over 2014. Growth will occur in all segments, but will be most rapid in the residential market.

 The U.S. Solar Market Insight report is the most detailed and timely research available on the continuing growth and opportunity in the U.S. The report includes deep analysis of solar markets, technologies and pricing, identifying the key metrics that will help solar decision-makers navigate the market’s current and forecasted trajectory.

GTM Research, a division of Greentech Media, provides critical and timely market analysis in the form of research reports, data services, advisory services and strategic consulting.

The Solar Energy Industries Association is the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry. As the voice of the industry, SEIA said it works with its 1,000 member companies to champion the use of clean, affordable solar in America by expanding markets, removing market barriers, strengthening the industry and educating the public on the benefits of solar energy. 

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.