US Solar Breaks Another Record

The United States solar industry can proudly say that it has yet broken another record. For the first time, solar power production accounted for more than 50 percent of all new electricity, one of the key achievements of 2023, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. Increase production across all sectors helped make this record possible with numbers including 77%, 19%, and 12% improvements in utility, commercial, and residential, respectively. 2023 was the first year that American solar workers installed more than 30 Gigawatts of solar capacity finishing up at 32 GW.

A notable part of this story is the fact that Texas, for only the second time, installed more solar than California in a year. This was largely due to large utility scale projects in which the state installed 4 Gigawatts in the last quarter of 2023 alone. Texas ended the year with a total of 6.5 GW of installed solar capacity. Correspondingly, coal production fell to below 10 percent and was surpassed by solar.

However, the residential solar industry is expecting to contract slightly by the end of 2024, largely due to recent changes in California’s net metering policies. The new NEM 3.0, or Net Billing, drastically reduces what utilities in the state will offer for electricity that solar power owners send to the grid. Under previous net metering programs, homeowners would receive full retail rates as compensation for their excess power production. The new Net Billing program basically offers the “avoided cost rate”, which is approximately 70 percent less than what was offered before. In fact, the SEIA is expecting a 13 percent reduction in residential solar business for 2024 compared the previous year.

On a more positive note, the industry is forecasting a quick rebound. Taking the SEIA’s base case predictions (right in between bear and bull case), 2025 will see the residential sector grow by 13 percent, erasing the same amount that it is expected to decline by the end of this year. Steady growth is expected the following years with an average of about 5 percent per year through 2034, adding more than 100 Gigawatts of power. This positive forecast assumes improvements in supply chains, interconnection capabilities, and lower interest rates, to name some of the primary factors.

All in all, this recent market report from the SEIA shows the resilient nature of the solar power industry. While there can be industry “hiccups” along the way, the trend line remains the same for solar, it will remain upward bound.

Solar Industry Sets Records For 2020

Despite the Covid 19 Pandemic, the U.S. solar market experienced significant growth in 2020.

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the industry grew by 43 percent and installed more than 19 gigawatts of solar electric capacity in 2020. Also notable is the fact that, for the second year in a row, solar power was the largest source of new electric-generating capacity.

Seia new electric capacity
SEIA – Past 10 Years New Electric Capacity Trend

“After a slowdown in Q2 due to the pandemic, the solar industry innovated and came roaring back to continue our trajectory as America’s leading source of new energy,” – SEIA president Abigail Ross Hopper. Case in point is the fact that 4th quarter of 2020 saw the most solar installed compared to any prior quarter on record. 2020 beats the previous best year for solar, 2016, by almost 5 gigawatts.

Some of the key figures from SEIA’s report include;

  • The extension of the 26 percent Investment Tax Credit has lead to a 17 percent increase in the expected amount of solar to be installed from 2021-2025.
  • The final quarter of business in 2020 saw an impressive 6 gigawatts of industrial scale solar installed. This is part of a significant 69 gigawatts of utility scale solar projects currently in the pipeline.
  • Residential solar saw an increase of 11 percent over 2019 with 3.1 gigawatts installed. This is rather impressive considering the initial slow down due to the pandemic.

This amazing growth trend is predicted to continue over the next 10 years. It is expected that in that time period, the U.S. will add 324 gigawatts of solar capacity, bringing the overall total installed capacity to 419 gigawatts. To put this into perspective, this predicted growth will have the upcoming decade responsible for almost 80 percent of total installed solar by 2030.

Now, more than ever, word is beginning to spread that solar power truly is affordable. Not only is it very affordable, but homeowners everywhere are starting to realize how much they can save by going solar. This news is a very large part of the amazing year that we just saw for solar energy in the U.S. It’s also why the SEIA and many other solar organizations are expecting an accelerated adoption of solar at all scales in the coming years.

2020 Will Be A Record Year For Solar

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) is predicting a stellar year for solar power in 2020.

A total of 24 Gigawatts of solar is expected to come online by the end of the year, according to the US Department of Energy’s EIA. This is impressively 60 percent more than 2016’s record year (15 GW). While the majority of this new solar capacity is at the utility scale (17.4 GW), 6.6 GW of small scale solar is nothing to scoff at!

It’s also worth noting that a significant amount of wind power will be installed by the end of the year as well. The EIA is predicting about 18 GW.

US Energy Information Administration

This momentum is expected to carry over to next year with an estimated 26 GW of new solar capacity for 2021.

The renewable energy tax credit has certainly had significant effects on the solar industry. More specifically, it helped nudge the industry to that record year in 2016 and also conversely we saw a slow down after that year as many had already utilized the credit. The credit is 26 percent this year and gets lowered to 22 percent next year, which is the last year for the credit to be utilized at the residential level. This will certainly help keep the residential solar industry strong, especially next year as homeowners look to take advantage of the credit before it disappears.

Unsurprisingly, this impressive upcoming renewable energy boom coincides with a decline in new fossil fuel expansion. Wind and solar power continue to lessen our need and reliance on dirty fossil fuels.

Just as important as an increase in the capacity of renewable energy is, the further use of energy storage is vital as well. The good news is that energy storage applications are expected to be deployed at all scales in significant volumes in the coming years.

While some may see the tax credit as being central to the rise in solar power usage, its actually a smaller part of the big picture. The big picture is that the cost of solar is, and has been for some years, very favorable compared with conventional energy. Costs have continued to fall, albeit more slowly, as they begin to level off. Further decreases in the cost of energy storage will have many homeowners, businesses, and power companies fully embracing solar plus storage solutions in the coming years!

It’s exciting times for fans of renewable energy!

Homeowners Are Warming Up To Solar

A recent Pew Research Center survey shows that homeowners across the U.S. are showing much higher interest in solar power.

The overall awareness of residential solar is certainly nothing new. Over the past 10 years or so, rooftop solar panels have become an increasingly common sight in many cities across America. However, solar adoption rates have seen a significant uptick in recent years.

According to this Pew Research Center article, since 2016, some areas of the country have seen a 20 percent increase in solar adoption, with the nation as a whole showing 6 percent more solar activity. The bulk of the article goes into details on the political divide concerning climate change.

Pew Research Center

Perhaps the most astonishing figure is that 46 percent of Americans have “given serious thought about installing solar panels on their homes in the last year.”

It’s not difficult to determine what is affecting this increase interest in solar power. If people are presented with a way to save money, they’ll take it. 96 percent of people polled said that saving money on their utility bills was the primary reason why they’d consider going solar. An impressive 87 percent said that environmental reasons were also a factor.

This newfound love for solar power is not evenly distributed around the nation, of course. Every state has different policies in place concerning solar and local opinions can vary as well. While the Pacific, North East, and Mountain states are, by now, solar veterans, other areas are catching up. Solar adoption has increased significantly in southern states. Solar is now cheap enough to make it attractive in the not-always-sunny North West.

Again, this rather noticeable increase in the positive way that solar power is viewed is largely due to the cost of solar. The word is finally spreading that installing solar power on a home is a wise financial decision. The truth is that, as much as the average person would like protect the environment, unless its economically feasible it’s not likely to happen.

Many upcoming solar installations will also include energy storage as solar plus storage becomes economically attractive as well. This will help assuage any homeowners that are concerned about their local utility playing games with net metering policies. Home energy storage leaves homeowners in full control of their energy costs.

Word will continue to spread about how great of an idea going solar is!

Solar Power Accounts for 2.7 Percent Of U.S. Electricity Demands

A recent report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration details the fact that solar power has contributed 2.7 percent of the nation’s electricity needs for the first half of 2019.

This is another post inspired by a recent PV Magazine USA article.

The first half of 2018 had solar producing 2.4 percent of the country’s needs, so this year is a decent 0.3 percent more. As there has been a somewhat slight slowdown in the residential solar market recently, the increase in solar adoption is only 9 percent more this year (preceding years had higher growth rates for solar).

As expected, western states are still leading the pack in total solar capacity. Case in point, California’s solar installations account for a bit more than 17 percent of the state’s electricity needs. Hawaii’s solar capacity covers a significant 14.5 percent of its demands. Nevada is not far behind at 14.1, Arizona at 9.6, and Utah at 8.2.


Some noteworthy parts of the U.S. with significant recent solar adoption include Florida, Texas, and parts of the Midwest. It will, of course, take some time for other parts of the country to catch up the total solar power installation amounts of some of the western states.

There are two primary ideas to take away from this story.

The first point addresses solar power naysayers, many of whom claimed that solar would never account for a significant percentage of the country’s electricity needs. Sure, at just shy of 3 percent, solar still has a way to go but it is definitely on the map now!

A second point addresses where we can expect solar to be in the near future. There is every indication that the adoption rates of solar power will stay high. The overall costs involved with solar installations are still decreasing, although very slightly. Word is continuing to spread to both homeowners and utilities alike about how financially attractive solar power is now. Also, the viability of solar plus storage is also something that is looking better and better.

Considering the expected trajectory of the solar power industry, we can look forward to solar accounting for double digit percentages of the nation’s needs in the not too distant future. Investing in non-renewable sources of energy simply does not make sense from financial or environmental viewpoints.

We are still at the beginning of a massive transition to a solar powered society!

The Full Value Of Residential Solar

Anyone familiar at all with solar power knows of the contentious relationship between utilities and residential solar.

So far, the situation has been quite apparent; many energy corporations in the United States have not been too happy, and have even discouraged the spread of residential solar power. It’s quite simple, this idea initially represented a loss in revenue and a serious threat to their business model.

However, utilities are finally crunching the numbers and realizing that residential solar energy might actually be a good thing for them as well.

How could residential solar competition actually be a good thing for power companies? Well, in short, it can help them reduce future costs.

grid benefits of residential solar
PV Magazine

Significant ongoing costs for utilities include building new sources of power generation, grid maintenance, and transmission investments. Residential solar can help utilities drastically reduce these costs. Distributed solar also helps utilities gain access to more stable and cheaper energy pricing, especially during summer months.

The largest of these avoided expenditures is the avoided electricity costs. Producing power to sell to consumers is a considerable part of the ongoing cost of doing business for utilities, especially in the summer time when energy prices increase significantly.

All of this bodes well for future residential solar power owners all across America. There are certainly many homeowners who live in states that currently make it difficult to go solar. As utilities in those states start to realize that residential solar can actually help them save money as well, Net Metering laws will finally become favorable for homeowners who wish to install solar panel systems there as well.

It can also be fair to assume that there are many homeowners that would have already gone solar if they knew that it was an idea that was fully supported and encouraged by their local utility. This will help these people make the decision to do so knowing they are not doing anything that is not fully supported by their local power company.

In summary, the full financial value of residential solar goes well beyond the financial benefit to homeowners. Power companies across the country can add more residential solar into their power mix to enable future savings.

Residential Solar Could Surpass 41 Gigawatts By 2025

According to new analysis, the United States could witness a residential solar growth of three times its current size by 2025. This would amount to an impressive 41 gigawatts of installed solar capacity.

This new report comes by way of PV Magazine USA (via a Credit Suisse analysis).

One of the most notable items from Credit Suisse’s report is that fact that only 3 percent of the residential rooftops in America have solar panel systems. This represents an enormous untapped opportunity. The report forecasts that rooftop solar will grow to “5% by 2020 and 11% by 2025.” This is what will bring the residential sector to a total of 41 GW.

In order to get an idea of how much potential residential rooftops contain, one just needs to consider how much space is involved. According to the United States Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratories (NREL), structures with less than 5,000 square feet or less of rooftop space can technically accommodate 731 GW of solar capacity. This represents about 25 percent of the country’s electricity needs. Fittingly, this is the same amount of electricity consumed by the residential sector as well.

residential solar to 2025

The potential for rooftop solar is obviously much larger than just the residential sector. Of course, greater than 25 percent of the nation’s electricity needs could be met if larger buildings, carports, and other ideas are used for solar installations as well.

However, the report did not address a couple of key ideas that have been recent roadblocks to a quick adoption of solar power. These two things include major solar installers changing their sales approach and the fact that some utilities have been fighting residential solar by disapproving net metering policies.

The report is most likely based on the idea of solar power in the U.S. approaching a tipping point. The associated costs are at a point where many homeowners can realize payback periods of as little as 5 years. Also, as more homeowners go solar, their neighbors are extremely likely to as well. There are those that have not gone solar because they fear the power that their utilities have. They will go solar once affordable energy storage solutions become available. At that point, homeowners will be in control and will no longer being at the whim of net metering policies.

It’s quite possible that the numbers will end up being very close to the ones forecasted by Credit Suisse. Word is quickly spreading about how very affordable solar power now is. It won’t be long before it will seem out of place for a home to not have solar. Now that’s a future that we can all look forward to.