The United States Now Has More Than 2 Million Solar Panel Installations

According to (Solar Energy Industries Association), there are now more than 2 million solar panel installations across the United States. This represents a significant milestone for an industry that is poised for further growth.

It was just a few years ago that the solar industry in the U.S. began to finally grow at good rates. The SEIA predicts that these impressive growth rates will continue.“This $17 billion industry is on track to double again in five years, and we believe that the 2020s will be the decade that solar becomes the dominant new form of energy generation.” – Abigail Hopper, SEIA’s President and CEO.

While it took the industry 40 years to reach one million installations (and 3 more years for the second), the 3 millionth and 4 millionth is expected to happen in 2021 and 2023, respectively. At this pace, solar power is poised to become the new dominant source of energy in the 2020’s.

The first few years of solar installations in America saw California as being by far the leader in solar. While this is still the case, other states have seen their solar industries experience massive growth. For example, South Carolina, Texas, Florida, Utah, Maryland, and Rhode Island has seen considerable growth in recent years. The total solar market in these states is now 4 times larger (going from 50,000 installations to 200,000) than what it was 3 years ago. The following image shows a growth trend for the states that have been in the top five list over the years.

Based on this incredible expected solar growth, the SEIA expects that a solar installation will take place every single minute by 2024. This is in stark contrast with 2010, in which a new solar installation took place every 10 minutes across the country. The idea that in a little more than a decade, solar installations will occur ten times as quickly is truly remarkable.

At the residential scale, it is expected that 2.5 percent of the homes in America will be solar powered by 2024.

All of this data, from the perspective of homeowners, represents an enormous opportunity to finally save a good deal of money on their electric bills and it allows them to do the right thing environmentally as well. That’s something everyone can feel good about.

More Than 10 GW Of Solar Installed In America In 2018

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.”

Source: Wood Mackenzie Power and Renewables

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.