Taking into account the almost 1,400 megawatts of solar capacity added at the end of the second quarter of 2015, the United States now has more than 20 gigawatts of cumulative installed solar. The figure is about 22.7 gigawatts. This is enough energy to power 4.6 million homes.
The solar industry continues to experience accelerated growth. 2015 is on track to see 24 percent more solar installations than the previous year. We’ll end this year with approximately 7.7 gigawatts added.
Quickest growth for solar can be found in the residential sector with a 70 percent increase over last year. The overall industry can now boast more than 150,000 jobs. While five states account for 75 percent of all solar installations, the others are posed to be playing catch up real soon. 21 states now have at least 100 megawatts of installed solar capacity.
Utility scale solar remains the largest contributor to the solar industry by measure of total capacity added. This could potentially change if the residential market continues to grow at its current pace.
As a percentage of new electrical capacity added, solar is significant. The first half of 2015 saw 40 percent of all new capacity coming from solar alone. As long as this trend continues, we’ll eventually see solar finally become a major player in the energy industry.
Is there anything particularly significant about that 20 gigawatts figure? Not especially. It’s just a nice round figure. There are many more gigawatts on the way, and there needs to be if we want solar power to eventually be a major supplier of electricity in America.
Residential solar will continue to grow in pace and overall adoption. Community solar will continue to give non-homeowners access to solar power. Many people will begin to look into solar to take advantage of the federal 30 percent tax break that is set to expire next year. Overall, knowledge of how affordable solar power is now is something that is relatively unknown. As more people become aware of the significant long term savings possible, solar will continue to grow at very high rates.
So here’s to solar’s first 20 and many more to come!