U.S. Solar Market Adds More Than 2 GW in Q2 2016

Growing 43 percent year over year, the U.S. saw 2,051 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) installed in the second quarter of 2016. According to GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association’s (SEIA) latest U.S. Solar Market Insight report, this marks the eleventh consecutive quarter in which more than a gigawatt (GW) of PV was installed. “We’re seeing the beginning of an unprecedented wave of growth that will occur throughout the remainder of 2016, specifically within the utility PV segment,” said Cory Honeyman, GTM Research associate director of U.S. solar research. “With more than 10 gigawatts of utility PV currently under construction, the second half of this year and the first half of 2017 are on track to continue breaking records for solar capacity additions.”

According to the report, utility-scale solar installations accounted for 53 percent of all installed PV in the first half of this year. With an additional 7.8 GW scheduled to come online in 2016, more solar capacity is expected to come online in the second half of this year than has ever come online in a single year. The residential market segment hit a major milestone earlier this year – one million residential rooftop installations. The report notes that California’s solar market has experienced a bit of a slowdown, but other state markets, including Utah and Texas, have helped pick up the slack. Residential PV installations grew 1 percent over the first quarter of the year and 29 percent annually.

“Solar works in all 50 states and this report proves that what many would consider non-traditional markets are now firmly a part of the clean energy movement,” said Tom Kimbis, SEIA’s interim president. “While it took us 40 years to hit 1 million U.S. solar installations, we’re expected to hit 2 million within the next two years. That record-breaking growth is made possible by solar’s cost-competitiveness and the vast benefits it provides consumers, our nation’s economy and environment.” California exceeded expectations in the non-residential market segment where it represented an unprecedented 50 percent of the segment’s installations for the quarter. The non-residential market experienced some constraints in the second quarter of the year due to expiring incentives in the Northeast and growing net-metering debates nationwide. According to the report, the U.S. non-residential market segment grew 5 percent over the first quarter and 50 percent year-over-year.

The second half of 2016 will benefit from emerging project types and growing support of solar by states and utilities. GTM research notes that by 2021, more than 30 states in the U.S. will add more than 100 MW of annual capacity, with 20 of those states becoming home to more than 1 GW of total operating solar PV.