The United States Solar Market just finished an amazing third quarter. In fact, the third quarter 2016 saw the most solar installed compared to any one previously.
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, 4,143 megawatts of solar PV were installed in Q3. This breaks down to about 2 megawatts per hour, an impressive pace compared to previous installation rates and a sign of where the industry has come. There’s also much solar in the “pipeline” so these impressive numbers will continue.
“The solar market now enjoys an economically-winning hand that pays off both financially and environmentally, and American taxpayers have noticed.” – Tom Kimbis (SEIA’s interim president). In fact, more than 200,000 solar jobs that have been created due to solar’s rapid ascent.
By far the largest segment of this solar growth story is utility scale solar. Utility solar accounted for 77 percent of new installations for Q3. Amazingly, more utility scale solar is expected to be completed in Q4 of this year than in all of 2015.
The non-residential market (community and commercial) accounted for 375 megawatts, its second largest quarter. However, this only represents a moderate growth figure compared to recent quarters.
The residential segment managed to still do more than 500 megawatts, yet slowed down a bit compared to recent, peak quarters. This slowdown is primarily due to maturation in markets like California, rate reforms, and the (most likely temporary) ending of net metering in Nevada.
As a whole, the solar industry has come a long way. By the end of 2013, the U.S. had a total of 10 gigawatts of solar PV installed. It is predicted that 2016 will be responsible for about 14 gigawatts of solar alone. This is 88 percent more than last year’s total.
While these numbers are impressive, we’ve just hit the tip of the iceberg as far as solar’s potential is concerned. Those in the industry know that we still have a long way to go before solar power provides a major portion of the country’s electricity needs. Undoubtedly, the residential solar market will pick up speed again as homeowners continue to demand fair access to low cost solar power.
So here’s to an even better solar power industry in the new year, 2017!