There are many ways to look at it but with 4,143 megawatts of new solar power installed in the US in the third quarter of 2016 every previous quarterly record was broken handily. For instance, the amount of solar installed in the third quarter grew 191 percent over the previous year’s third quarter.
In fact, with more than 8 gigawatts of solar installed by the end of the third quarter of 2016, the US already installed more solar in 2016 than the 7.3 gigawatts of solar installed in all of 2015—the previous full-year record holder.
Put another way, it found that nearly 2 megawatts of solar power were installed every hour of the third quarter—and already solar is being installed at an even faster pace in the fourth quarter. That’s according to the Q4 2016 U.S. Solar Market Insight report by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). The quarterly report tracks the US solar industry.
“Coming off our largest quarter ever and with an extremely impressive pipeline ahead, it’s safe to say the state of the solar industry here in America is strong,” said Tom Kimbis, SEIA’s interim president. “The solar market now enjoys an economically-winning hand that pays off both financially and environmentally, and American taxpayers have noticed. With a 90 percent favorability rating and 209,000 plus jobs, the U.S. solar industry has proven that when you combine smart policies with smart 21st-century technology, consumers and businesses both benefit.”
Since solar installations in 2016 have already surpassed 2015’s record-breaking year, the fourth quarter of 2016 is icing on the cake, but the industry isn’t resting on its haunches. According to SEIA and GTM, the solar industry is likely to install 14.1 gigawatts of new solar power throughout the year. That means roughly 6 gigawatts of solar could come online in the fourth quarter of the year.
The largest driver of solar power in the third quarter was the utility-scale segment of solar, it brought 3.2 GWs of new solar power online in the third quarter, 77 percent of all the solar energy installed. In the next quarter, that sector is expected to bring 4.8 GWs of new solar power online, that’s more than was installed across the entire utility PV segment in all of 2015, according to SEIA. Costs for utility-scale solar installations were between $35 per megawatt hour and $50 per megawatt hour.
“Driven by a large pipeline of utility PV projects initially procured under the assumption of a 2016 federal ITC expiration, the third quarter of 2016 represents the first phase of this massive wave of project completion – a trend that will continue well into the first half of 2017,” said Cory Honeyman, associate director of U.S. solar at GTM Research.
In the third-quarter of 2016 the residential solar market had more than 500 megawatts of solar power installed, the sixth consecutive quarter when it passed that threshold, even though it experienced a slight slow-down over last year’s quarter. Meanwhile, the non-residential sector of the solar industry saw 375 megawatts of solar come online, its second largest quarter ever. The report attributed part of that growth to the community solar industry, which accounted for a record 20 percent of the non-residential PV market in the quarter.Tweet