This morning (March 10) GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) announced that 6.2 gigawatts of solar photovoltaics (PVs)—that’s 30 percent more than in 2013—and 767 megawatts of concentrating solar power came online in the U.S. in 2014. That brings the accumulative amount of solar installed in the the U.S. to over 20 gigawatts. The organizations released their results in their U.S. Solar Market Insight 2014 Year in Review report. The report also found that solar accounted for 32 percent of all the U.S.’ new energy in 2014—beating out new coal and wind power generation.
While the year-over-year growth is phenomenal for the solar industry—heck, any industry—a slightly broader view of a half decade shows a bigger story. "Solar PV was a $13.4 billion market in the U.S. in 2014, up from just $3 billion in 2009," said Shayle Kann, Senior Vice President at GTM Research. "This growth should continue throughout 2015 thanks to falling solar costs, business model innovation, an attractive political and regulatory environment and increased availability of low-cost capital."
“In 2014, for the first time in history, each of the three major U.S. market segments—utility, commercial and residential—installed more than a gigawatt (GW) of PV,” SEIA said. However, the overwhelming majority of new solar energy installed in 2014 was in the utility-scale segment, which saw 3.9 gigawatts of new solar come online in 2014. The residential segment saw 1.2 gigawatts of PV—surpassing the 1 gigawatt threshold for the first time and the commercial segment saw slightly more than 1 gigawatt of new installations, according to the report.
Both the commercial and utility-scale segments of solar power in the U.S. first surpassed 1 gigawatt of newly installed solar power in 2011. While utility-scale solar has continually grown, commercial-scale solar has languished somewhat, and was down 6 percent compared to 2013. “Many factors have contributed to this trend, ranging from tight economics to difficulty financing small commercial installations,” the report stated. However, led by California, GTM Research anticipated that the commercial segment will grow in 2015 again.
The report also noted that the residential segment of the industry continues to be the fastest-growing market segment in the U.S. It said that 2014 marked three consecutive years of greater than 50 percent annual growth.
SEIA President Rhone Resch attributed much of the success to the Investment Tax Credit (ITC). “Since the ITC was passed in 2006, more than 150,000 solar jobs have been created in America, and $66 billion has been invested in solar installations nationwide,” Resch said. “Today the U.S. solar industry has more employees than tech giants Google, Apple, Facebook and Twitter combined.”Tweet