Rooftop solar power jumped to 5,434 megawatts at the end of 2015 from 3,612 megawatts at the end of 2014. While the 1,822 megawatts of new rooftop solar installed last year was impressive, the utility-sector trounced that with 3,486 new megawatts of solar power last year.
That’s according to the Smart Electric Power Alliance’s (SEPA’s) 2015 Solar Market Snapshot, which became available for download today. The annual report surveys utilities across the country to track trends and market insights in the national solar market. Roughly 350 utilities responded to SEPA’s survey, which the organization said is a 20 percent increase over 2014.
“What distinguishes SEPA’s survey from other market intelligence is that our data is based on numbers of solar megawatts and interconnections we get directly from utilities,” contended lead Research Analyst Ryan Edge. “This approach provides a more realistic assessment of trends and regional growth patterns.”
“The report clearly documents solar’s increasing cost-competitiveness with other forms of generation, the integral role of other distributed energy resources, and the need for clear, replicable road maps for change that can balance risk and innovation,” said Julia Hamm, SEPA President and CEO.
This year the key solar trends it observed included residential rate restructuring, the impact of extending tax incentives and growing interest in community solar power. The report found that 30 state legislatures or regulatory commissions looked at rate reforms last year. “A total of 61 utilities filed applications to increase fixed service fees, but only seven of these cases were approved at the full amount requested, while 18 were approved at a lower amount and 17 were denied,” SEPA stated.
“The 2015 snapshot confirms, once again, the central role utilities are playing in the energy transition—and will continue to play as we face the challenges in policy and technology still ahead,” Hamm said.
In addition to their efforts to change rate structures, utilities are also starting to implement the grid of tomorrow. According to the report more than half of the utilities said they are interested in testing energy devices like batteries and advanced inverters that will help deploy more solar power reliably but few are still implementing such technologies.Tweet