Across the US 10.6 gigawatts of new photovoltaic solar power came online in 2018—the third year in a row that installations surpassed 10 GWs, but far less than the 14.6 GWs installed in 2016. The residential solar market also saw growth throughout the year, comprising nearly of 2.4 GWs of new solar rooftops installed across 314,600 homes.
Overall, 64.2 GWs of solar power are now online in the US, according to the U.S. Solar Market Insight 2018 Year-in-Review Report from Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) introduced today (March 13). The report looks at how much the solar industry installs on a quarterly and yearly basis, as well as each of its segments, rooftop, commercial and residential. While the US still installed more than 10 GWs of solar last year, it was the second year in a row that saw a decrease in solar installations.
“The solar industry experienced growing pains in 2018, in large part due to the unnecessary tariffs that were imposed on solar cells and modules, but this report still finds significant reason for optimism,” said SEIA’s president and CEO, Abigail Ross Hopper. “The total amount of solar installed in America is on track to more than double in the next five years, proving solar’s resiliency and its economic strength. It’s clear, this next decade is going to be one of significant growth.”
The report anticipated the amount of solar installed in the US will rise 14 percent in 2019, and that in 2021 solar installations are likely to reach 15.8 GWs. That’s partly because of the looming expiration of the federal investment tax credit (ITC) it’s allowed to go through the end of 2021 and companies are already signing power-purchase agreements for future solar farms.
The residential sector of the solar industry was the only one to see growth in 2018. The utility-scale solar market declined by 7 percent largely because of the Trump tariffs, while the commercial market declined by eight percent due to policy transitions in major markets, the report said.
"After the residential solar freefall of 2017, growth in 2018 was driven by a more diverse mixture of national and regional installers than in previous years,” said Austin Perea, senior solar analyst at Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables. “With a pivot toward more efficient sales channels, both national and regional installers exceeded expectations in California and Nevada, which drove the lion’s share of residential growth in 2018.”
Indeed, some of the largest home solar installers have been revamping their sales channels, from Tesla bringing solar rooftop sales in house, to Sunrun and Vivint Solar announcing they’ll sell solar services in Home Depot recently. The report also noted that other markets are becoming more important for home solar, like Texas and Florida. California will remain the largest solar market because of its size and population, but other markets will see more growth.Tweet