The U.S. now has 15,900 megawatts of solar power installed. Fully 1,133 MWs of photovoltaics were installed in the second quarter of 2014. It’s the third consecutive quarter when more than 1 gigawatt of photovoltaics were installed in the U.S. and puts the country on track to install 6.5 gigawatts of photovoltaics this year, which is 36 percent more than last year (though slightly down from earlier estimates of 6.6 gigawatts). That’s the news from the latest U.S. Solar Market Insight Report, the quarterly report put out by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and GTM Research.
There’s has been a lot to crow about in these reports over the past few years. For instance the most recent quarter was the fourth-largest quarter for solar installations in the country—ever. Historically the second quarter is one on the weaker quarters for solar installations so the news bodes well for the third and fourth quarters of 2014.
The majority of growth, about 55 percent of all solar installed in the quarter, is coming from the utility-scale side of solar installations where 10s to 100s of megawatts can come online quickly. In fact, in the first half of 2012 only 1.8 gigawatts of utility-scale photovoltaics were installed. By the end of the second quarter of 2014 7.3 gigawatts of utility-scale PVs were installed.
While overshadowed by utility-scale solar the commercial and residential side of solar installations are picking up, too. The report found that more than half a million homeowners and commercial customers have installed solar power as of the first half of 2014. The residential market is showing consistent growth. “For the first time ever, more than 100 MW of residential PV came online without any state incentive,” the report added, showing the increasingly small gap between the cost of residential solar and grid-supplied electric.
“Solar continues to soar, providing more and more homes, businesses, schools and government entities across the United States with clean, reliable and affordable electricity,” said SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch. “Today, the solar industry employs 143,000 Americans and pumps nearly $15 billion a year into our economy.”
Resch attributed most of the growth to policies including the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), net-metering and renewable portfolio standards (RPS). “By any measurement, these policies are paying huge dividends for both the U.S. economy and our environment—and should be maintained, if not expanded, given their tremendous success, as well as their importance to America’s future.”
It’s not only policy that’s driving solar growth. “With new sources of capital being unlocked, design and engineering innovations reducing system prices, and sales channels rapidly diversifying, the solar market is quickly gaining steam to drive significant growth for the next few years,” explained Shayle Kann, Senior Vice President at GTM Research.Tweet