2018 was another strong year for the solar power industry in the United States.
Last year was the third year in a row that the country installed gigawatts of solar in double-digits. A total of 10.6 GW of solar PV (photovoltaics aka solar panels) were completed, bringing the total amount in the U.S. to 64.2 gigawatts. While this actually was a 2 percent decline from 2017, there are signs that the residential market is rebounding. Actually, over the next five years, we can expect a significant amount of new solar (details below).
The CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, Abigail Ross Harper, has stated – “The solar industry experienced growing pains in 2018, in large part due to the unnecessary tariffs that were imposed on solar cells and modules, but this report still finds significant reason for optimism. The total amount of solar installed in America is on track to more than double in the next five years, proving solar’s resiliency and its economic strength. It’s clear, this next decade is going to be one of significant growth.”
A few key facts and figures from SEIA’s report include;
- Q4 2018 saw an additional 4.2 GW installed.
- Solar was a top source of new electrical generation for 6 straight years.
- A total of 6.2 GW of utility-scale solar was added in 2018. This was 58 percent of new energy capacity.
- Over the next 5 years, total solar capacity will double.
Installations are expected to increase by 14 percent in 2019, with the industry maintaining at least 15 GW of installed solar capacity every year after.
The primary indicator that the residential market is back on track relates to the fact that the fourth quarter of 2018 was the strongest quarter over the past 2 years. More than 300,000 households installed solar panels in 2018. In addition to the solar powerhouse state of California, other states that did especially well last year included Nevada, Texas, and Florida.
As a total of new electrical capacity added in the U.S. in 2018, solar PV accounted for a significant 29 percent. This number is bound to increase quite a bit as more than 13 GW of utility-scale solar contracts were signed in 2018. This figure represents the largest amount of potential capacity in the solar pipeline. Renewable portfolio standards and increasing corporate interests help explain this upcoming boost to the solar industry.
In conclusion, the U.S. solar industry is looking strong after an upswing in installations to close out 2018. The market is adjusting to tariffs, experiencing a more diversified field of contractors, and continuing to take advantage of the low cost of solar power.