The US installed a total of 14.8 gigawatts of solar power in 2016—nearly double what was installed in 2015, according to the figures released today (March 9) in the U.S. Solar Market Insight 2016 Year-in-Review report by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). The report found that, on average, a megawatt of photovoltaics came online every 36 minutes in the US and it was the top source of new electric generation in the US, representing 39 of the new capacity that came online in the year.
The report, early results of which were previously released, also found that nearly half, 22, states installed more than 100 megawatts of solar power in 2016. California, the nation’s largest solar market installed more than 1 gigawatt of solar power in the final quarter of 2016, California had also installed a gigawatt of solar power in the third quarter of 2016. Across all states the solar development was led by the utility-scale segment, which installed more than all the solar power installed in the US in 2015.
“It would be hard to overstate how impressive 2016 was for the solar industry,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO. “Prices dropped to all-time lows, installations expanded in states across the country and job numbers soared. The bottom line is that more people are benefitting from solar now than at any point in the past, and while the market is changing, the broader trend over the next five years is going in one direction—and that’s up.”
The report found that costs of solar systems fell nearly 20 percent, on average, in 2016. It called it was the greatest year-over-year price decline since GTM Research began tracking price drops in the report.
Looking ahead the report anticipated a slow-down in 2017. That’s been projected since the Investment Tax Credit was extended at the end of 2015 because solar developers were trying to meet deadlines before the ITC ended. Yet, it still anticipated that the US will install roughly 13.2 GWs of solar in 2017. That’s still well over the amount of solar power installed in 2015, but 10 percent below 2016.
“Though utility PV will reset from an origination perspective starting in 2017-2018, distributed solar is largely expected to continue to grow over the next few years due to rapid system cost declines and a growing number of states reaching grid parity," said Corey Honeyman, Associate Director of GTM Research. "That said, ongoing NEM and rate design battles—in conjunction with a declining incentive environment for non-residential PV—will continue to present risks to distributed solar growth."
Looking further out the report anticipated that the solar industry will triple over the next five years. By 2022 the solar industry will be installing 18 GWs of new electric generation on an annual basis.Tweet