Fully 232 megawatts of residential PV were installed in the first three months of 2014 compared to 225 megawatts of commercial solar installed in the same period. It’s the first time that’s ever happened in the U.S. It’s even more significant because the report stated that more than one third of residential PV installations came online without any state incentives.
That’s just one important takeaway from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industry Association’s (SEIA) “Q1 2014 U.S. Solar Market Insight Report.” The report found that 1,330 megawatts of solar panels were installed in the U.S. in the first quarter—up 79 percent from the previous years’ quarter and the second-largest quarter for solar in the U.S.—ever!
It’s even more significant since historically the first quarter of the year is the weakest of all four in terms of new solar. Indeed, the report anticipated that fully 6.6 gigawatts of photovoltaics are expected to come online in the U.S. this year. The report said that’s 39 percent increase over 2013, which was the previous record-breaker.
Solar electric power was also the overwhelming majority of all new electric generation that came online in the first quarter. “Solar accounted for 74 percent of all new U.S. electric capacity installed in Q1 2014, further signaling the rapidly increasing role that solar is playing in the energy market,” said Shayle Kann, Senior Vice President at GTM Research.
While the commercial sector’s growth sagged compared to the growth in residential solar, it’s not likely to stay that way. “Expect to see a resurgence in the non-residential market, combined with continued incremental residential growth, throughout the rest of this year,” Kann said.
“Solar energy is now generating enough clean, reliable and affordable electricity to effectively power 3 million American homes, while creating thousands of new jobs nationwide and pumping nearly $15 billion a year into the U.S. economy,” said SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch. “The 14,800 megawatts of solar currently installed in the U.S. can generate enough pollution-free electricity to displace 18 billion pounds of coal or 1.8 billion gallons of gasoline. That’s the equivalent of removing 3.5 million passenger cars off our roads and highways. For states trying to meet new, enhanced air quality standards, solar can be a real game changer.”
The quarter was also big for utility-scale solar. It was the biggest quarter ever for CSP as the 392 megawatt (AC) Ivanpah Solar Energy Generating Station (SEGS) project and Genesis Solar project’s second 125 megawatt (AC) phase came online in the quarter. In all, 857 megawatts of CSP are slated to be online by the end of the year. Meanwhile the utility-scale side of solar grew by 171 percent installing 873 megawatts in the quarter.