The US solar industry had a record-breaking 2015 with 7.3 gigawatts of power added to the grid, but expectations of 9.5 gigawatts for 2016 are even better. In fact, this year is expected to be the first time a single renewable energy source outpaced other utility-scale additions, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). The agency expected that 26 gigawatts of energy will come online in 2016 with 93 percent of the energy capacity to come from solar (9.5 GWs), wind 6.8 (GWs) and natural gas (8.0 GWs).
The EIA reported that the 9.5 gigawatts of utility-scaled solar being added in 2016 is more than triple the 3.1 gigawatts added to the grid in 2015. In fact, it’s more utility-scale solar power than installed over the past three years combined, which amounts to 9.4 gigawatts.
The EIA’s projections for 2016 only account for utility-scale solar. It noted that 2 gigawatts of rooftop solar was added during 2015 and it expected that trend to grow during 2016, but did not include rooftop solar in these projections. However, it does provide monthly updates on growth in the distributed solar markets including rooftop and small commercial installations.
The Q4 2016 U.S. Solar Market Insight report by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) provides a broader perspective and includes installation figures from all sectors of the solar industry including rooftop, commercial and utility-scale. It found that by the end of the third quarter of 2016 more than 8 gigawatts of solar was installed across the US, already smashing the previous record of 7.3 gigawatts installed in 2015. The report predicted that a total of 14.1 gigawatts of solar will come online this year, roughly 6 gigawatts of that could come online during the fourth quarter alone.Tweet