U.S. Solar Market Swelled in Third-Quarter 2019


The U.S. residential solar market reached record highs in the third quarter of 2019, with 712 MW of solar installed, according to the latest U.S. Solar Market Insight report from Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

The U.S. solar market overall added 2.6 GW of PV in the third quarter, bringing total U.S. solar capacity to 71.3 GW.

The increase in residential installations helped the U.S. solar market grow 45% year-over-year and contributed to 15 states having their best quarter ever for residential solar. States with smaller solar markets – such as Idaho, Wyoming, New Mexico and Iowa – all saw record residential growth due to continued price declines and improvements to the economic competitiveness of solar across the country.

“This positive report makes clear that American families are demanding energy choice and solar, and that our industry is ready to deliver,” says Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of SEIA. “This is the kind of growth and investment we could see going forward if we make smart policy moves, like extending the solar investment tax credit and stopping additional tariffs. Failure to make these policy moves will limit deployment potential and cost jobs.” ”

California continues to be the largest residential solar market, installing nearly 300 MW in the third quarter of 2019, breaking its own quarterly record.

“While California has always led the country in solar deployment, the drivers behind that growth have shifted,” says Austin Perea, senior solar analyst for Wood Mackenzie. “This is primarily due to new-build solar demand and increased consumer interest in solar storage solutions as a result of public safety power shutoffs that have left hundreds of thousands of utility customers in the dark.”

Wood Mackenzie is forecasting that the total amount of solar installed in the U.S. in 2019 will reach 13 GW, representing 23% annual growth.

Other key findings from the report include the following:

  • The 2.6 GW DC of solar PV installed in Q3 2019, represents a 45% increase from Q3 2018 and a 25% increase from Q2 2019.
  • A total of 21.3 GW DC of new utility PV projects were announced from Q1 to the end of Q3, bringing the contracted utility PV pipeline to a record high of 45.5 GW DC.
  • Non-residential PV saw 445 MW DC installed as policy shifts in states including California, Massachusetts and Minnesota continue to slow growth.

Wood Mackenzie forecasts 23% year-over-year growth in 2019, with 13 GW DC of installations expected. In total, more than 9 GW were added to the five-year forecast since last quarter to account for new utility-scale procurement.

Total installed U.S. PV capacity will more than double over the next five years, with annual installations reaching 20.1 GW DC in 2021 prior to the expiration of the federal investment tax credit for residential systems and a drop in the commercial credit to 10% (under the current version of the law).

For more details about the report, click here.

Photo: sPower‘s Antelope project in Lancaster, Calif.

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