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US solar market could triple in next five years, says a report

Published 10 March 2017

The US solar market has witnessed a total installed capacity of 14.8GW in 2016, and increased the total solar capacity in the country to 42.4GW, enough to power 8.3 million homes in the country, according to a study.

As prices continue to fall in many states, it is estimated that the solar capacity in the country could triple in five years of time.

A report titled ‘U.S. Solar Market Insight: 2016 Year-in-Review’ by GTM Research in association with Solar Energy Industries Association, outlined these facts.

The surge in solar energy has also been attributed to the increase in the number of utility-scale power projects. On an average, the price of average solar modules in the US have fallen by nearly 20% last year and it is being hailed as the highest year-on-year decline since, GTM Research began modelling pricing in its reports.

The report has also forecast that the US solar installations could be 13.2GW this year, which is 10% less compared to 2016, but it will still be 75% more than the installed capacity of 2015.

The decline is expected to take place due to a huge number of utility-scale projects that have come online in the latter half of 2016. Most of the projects were scheduled for completion before the original expiration of the federal Investment Tax Credit.

However, the utility-scale solar segment is expected to have a rebound by 2019. The non-residential solar market is expected to grow at 11% in 2017 on an annual basis, with installations of about 1.75GW.

On the other hand, community solar increased by nearly four times between 2015 and 2016, because of major installations in Minnesota and Massachusetts. This market is expected to represent about 30% of non-residential market in 2018.

In 2016, solar capacity witnessed a growth in over twenty-two states, where more than 100MW was installed, compared to two states in 2010.

The research also forecast that residential solar segment will also increase by 9% in 2017. California, which is home to about half of residential solar in the US is expected to see a decline in 2017.

Solar Energy Industries Association president and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper said “It would be hard to overstate how impressive 2016 was for the solar industry.

“Prices dropped to all-time lows, installations expanded in states across the country and job numbers soared. The bottom line is that more people are benefitting from solar now than at any point in the past, and while the market is changing, the broader trend over the next five years is going in one direction – and that’s up.”