Utility-Scale Solar Remains Resilient Despite Pandemic


The U.S. solar market installed 3.5 GW of new solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity in Q2, a drop of 6% from Q1 installations. At the same time, utility-scale solar remained resilient despite the COVID-19 pandemic, representing 71% of all new solar capacity brought online in Q2, according to recently released U.S. Solar Market Insight Q3 2020 report.

The report, released by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie, notes that the residential and non-residential segments saw a significant slowdown in the quarter. Installations were down 23% quarter over quarter in the residential segment, and 12% quarter over quarter in the non-residential sector, due to restrictions and shelter-in-place orders imposed to curb the pandemic.

“The growth we see in this report underscores the resilience of the solar industry as we deal with COVID work stoppages, a struggling economy, harmful trade policy and an uncertain tax environment,” says Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of SEIA. “Tens of thousands of our workers have been laid off or furloughed amid this crisis, and SEIA remains firm in our commitment to fight for equitable policy that allows the solar industry to compete and grow our workforce.”

Solar accounted for 37% all new electric generating capacity added in the U.S. in the first half of the year, as Texas and Florida each installed over 900 MW across distributed and utility solar in Q2. The report said a total of 8.7 GW DC of new utility PV power-purchase agreements were announced in Q2, bringing the contracted pipeline to a total of 62 GW DC.

Wood Mackenzie forecasts 37% annual growth this year, with 18 GW of new solar installations expected. This is a 6% decrease from pre-pandemic forecasts. The U.S. solar market is expected to install nearly 100 GW from 2021-2025, a 42% increase in the amount of solar installed over the last five years.

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