1,665 megawatts of solar power was installed in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2016. This was more than what was added by nuclear, natural gas, and coal combined. This fact and others presented in this post are courtesy of a recent report by the Solar Energy Industries Association and GreenTech Media Research.
This is especially notable because solar’s share of new electric generation capacity was only 30 percent for all of 2015, as opposed to the 64 percent share that it has provided in the first 3 months of the year. If this trend continues, then solar will maintain it’s place as the largest source of new electric capacity for all of 2016. It is projected that there will be an additional 14.5 gigawatts of new solar added by the end of the year. This is an incredible 94 percent increase over last year.
The trend is likely to continue as solar power continues to be adopted at record rates. In addition to that, the use of coal and natural is in decline. Nuclear projects do not come online nearly as often because they are typically much larger and initially very expensive.
Tom Kimbis of SEIA has recently mentioned that – “The solar industry is growing at warp speed, driven by the fact that solar is one of the lowest-cost options for electricity, and it’s being embraced by people who both care about the environment and want access to affordable and reliable electricity.”
Not surprisingly, utility-scale solar is expected to be the largest segment in the coming months. As quickly as the residential solar market as grown, large scale solar installations can easily dwarf residential ones simply due to scale. More solar friendly state policies of late are expected to further support the growth of utility-scale solar.
While the renewal of the federal Investment Tax Credit certainly can be attributed, at least partly, to solar’s continued growth, the bottom line is that investments in solar power look good even without subsidies. This is how far prices have dropped in recent years.
At this rate, it won’t be too long before solar is responsible for supplying the United States with a very significant amount of the energy.