The US solar industry had another record-breaking quarter, installing 2,387 megawatts (MWs) of solar photovoltaics (PV) in the second quarter, 8 percent higher than last year’s second quarter. Solar also accounted for 22 percent of all new electric power brought online in the US trailing only natural gas. That’s according to the latest US Solar Market Insight Report from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and GTM Research.
The report found that more solar was installed in the second quarter than the first quarter of the year when 2,044 megawatts of solar power were installed. Each of the segments of the solar industry commercial, residential and utility-scale solar experienced growth over the first quarter. Many of the states that led growth in the solar industry were leaders but some states like Minnesota which was 5th and Mississippi which was 9th, were surprises, the report found.
The commercial and utility-scale segments also experienced year-over-year growth for the quarter. Similar to the first quarter, however, the residential market experienced a 17 percent drop compared to the previous year’s second quarter, installing 563 MWs in the quarter.
“Slowdown in residential solar is largely a function of national installers scaling back operations in major state markets as they prioritize profitability over growth,” explained GTM Research Solar Analyst Austin Perea. “While California was the first major market to exhibit signs of slow-down in Q1, many major Northeast markets began to feel the impact of national installer pull-back in Q2 despite a stable policy environment and strong market fundamentals."
The commercial market saw 437 MWs of new solar installed, 31 percent higher than in the previous year’s quarter. The report attributed the growth in the segment to time-of-use rates in California, expiring incentives in Massachusetts and a number of remote, net metered projects in New York, which had a record-breaking quarter.
The utility-scale segment of the solar market saw 1,387 MWs of new solar installed, 58 percent of all the solar power installed in the quarter. For seven consecutive quarters the utility-scale segment of the solar industry saw more than a gigawatt of new solar power installed. More than half (59 percent) of all the utility-scale soar power is now being procured on a voluntary basis, rather than because of state requirements. That’s at least partly because the price of utility-scale solar power has remained under $1 a watt for the second consecutive quarter.
“This report shows once again that solar is on the rise and will continue to add to its share of electricity generation,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO. “Last year, solar companies added jobs 17 times faster than the rest of the economy and increased our GDP by billions of dollars. We are going to continue to fight for policies that allow the industry to continue this phenomenal growth.”
Hopper was referring to the petition for trade relief filed by Suniva. If the petition is approved it would raise the cost of solar panels and could cut growth in the industry by half, forcing the industry to lose 88,000 jobs.
If the petition isn’t approved, the report anticipated that the US will see 12.4 gigawatts of new solar power installed. That’s down slightly from GTM’s previous expectation of 12.6 gigawatts of new solar power for the year.Tweet