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US solar market grows 95% in 2016, smashes records

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Greentech Media

shutterstock_396505426_410_282_c1In its biggest year to date, the United States solar market nearly doubled its annual record, topping out at 14,626 megawatts of solar PV installed in 2016.

This represents a 95 percent increase over the previous record of 7,493 megawatts installed in 2015. GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) previewed this data in advance of their upcoming U.S. Solar Market Insight report, set to be released on March 9.

Source: GTM Research / SEIA U.S. Solar Market Insight report

Source: GTM Research / SEIA U.S. Solar Market Insight report

For the first time ever, U.S. solar ranked as the No. 1 source of new electric generating capacity additions on an annual basis. In total, solar accounted for 39 percent of new capacity additions across all fuel types in 2016.

“What these numbers tell you is that the solar industry is a force to be reckoned with,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO. “Solar’s economically winning hand is generating strong growth across all market segments nationwide, leading to more than 260,000 Americans now employed in solar.”

Source: GTM Research / SEIA U.S. Solar Market Insight report

Source: GTM Research / SEIA U.S. Solar Market Insight report

Success this year was driven largely by the utility-scale segment, which was bolstered by a pipeline of projects initially hedging against the extension of the federal Investment Tax Credit. Not only did it represent the most megawatts installed, but the utility-scale segment also featured the highest growth rate of any segment, growing 145 percent from 2015.

“In a banner year for U.S. solar, a record 22 states each added more than 100 megawatts,” said Cory Honeyman, GTM Research’s associate director of U.S. solar. “While U.S. solar grew across all segments, what stands out is the double-digit-gigawatt boom in utility-scale solar, primarily due to solar’s cost-competitiveness with natural-gas alternatives.”

The non-residential market also exceeded expectations, with two major growth drivers in the segment. The first is community solar, adding a record total of more than 200 megawatts, led by Minnesota and Massachusetts. Second, rate design and net energy metering fueled a rush in project development and installation growth across a number of major state markets, most notably in California.

For the first time since 2011, non-residential installation growth surpassed residential solar growth, which posted a still-impressive 2,583 megawatts. While growth in California’s residential market has begun to level out, strong growth in markets like Maryland, New Jersey and a handful of emerging states where solar has achieved grid parity, helped the residential segment to grow 19 percent year-over-year.

As a result of a remarkable 2016, the U.S. is now home to more than 1.3 million solar PV installations, with a cumulative capacity of over 40 gigawatts.

On March 9, GTM Research and SEIA will release the complete U.S. Solar Market Insight 2016 Year in Reviewthe industry’s definitive source of state and segment-level solar data, analysis and forecasts.

Source: Greentech Media. Reproduced with permission.  

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  • George Darroch

    Utility is really eclipsing residential in the US!

    • trackdaze

      there is a chance that will occur in oz this year or next. the numbers suggest what is possible

      Australia 1.5 million installs for 6gws
      USA. 1.3 million installs for 40gws

      commercial and utility scale projects in oz are dragging the chain.

      • Mike Shackleton

        Projects in Port Augusta, projects in Victoria, Engie indicating they want to install 1000MW of solar as Hazelwoods shuts down… It’s happening and all the jawboning in Canberra won’t do anything to change that.

    • Brad

      That was the bit that surprised me, how low the residential is

    • DevMac

      The US had a government that was a lot more supportive of large scale renewables. They’ve since sunk to around the same level of support the Australian Government has (eg. looking to use money from a CLEAN energy fund to subsidise coal. Surely we’re living in a political cartoon).

      Welcome to the 1950’s, Tony Abbott’s favourite decade.

  • DevMac

    Doesn’t that mean that “Solar jobs” is a chant that the progressives can use against the “Coal jobs” strategy being spewed by the conservatives?