Expect to see more solar across the United States this year. A lot more. The solar industry is predicted to more than double the amount of installed capacity in 2016, according to a new report from U.S. Solar Market Insight, a collaboration between the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and GreenTech Media’s GTM Research division. After a record year in 2015 with 7.3 gigawatts installed, the American solar market is set to grow a staggering 119 percent by adding an astronomical 16 gigawatts of capacity by the end of the year.
“This is a new energy paradigm and the solar industry officially has a seat at the table with the largest energy producers,” said Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO. “Because of the strong demand for solar energy nationwide, and smart public policies like the ITC (investment tax credit) and NEM (net energy metering), hundreds of thousands of well-paying solar jobs will be added in the next few years benefiting both America’s economy and the environment.”
In December, Congress extended the federal solar investment tax credit to 2019. The ITC is a 30 percent tax credit for solar systems on residential and commercial properties. According to the report, community solar programs, offsite solar and rooftop solar are three key trends that will drive U.S. solar demand throughout the year.
To put the predicted 119 percent growth in perspective, last year’s 7.3 gigawatts was a 16 percent jump from 2014. Total operating capacity reached 27.4 gigawatts at the end of 2015 – enough to power 5.4 million homes, according to SEIA.
Solar beat natural gas for the first time ever last year, accounting for nearly 30 percent of new U.S. electricity generating capacity. California was the top state for new capacity installation, adding 3.3 gigawatts. By 2021, GTM Research expects the U.S. solar market to surpass 100 cumulative gigawatts, with an annual install rate of 20 gigawatts or more.
Via GreenTech Media
Lead image via Department of Energy