Clean Power

Published on June 3rd, 2014 | by Giles Parkinson


US Solar Installations In 2014 Expected To Double Solar Installations Of 2012

June 3rd, 2014 by  

Originally published on Renew Economy


The US solar market is surging. Installations for 2014 are expected to jump to 6.6GW in 2014, a rise of more than one third from 2013, and double the rate of 2012. According to Greentech Media, that rate is expected to nearly double gain by 2016. (see graph to the right)

GTM say the solar PV is expected to rise by one third, with the fastest growth (61 per cent) in the residential sector, with California and New York performing particularly well. GTM says that in 2014 there will be a completed solar installation every 2.4 minutes in the US.

Another notable statistic is the surge in concentrated solar thermal, which is poised to have its strongest year on record. And, as this graph below illustrates, the idea that natural gas will displace renewables is something of a myth – only 4 per cent of new installation came from the shale gas industry – 95 per cent of total installations came from solar, wind and geothermal.

Below that are some other highlights of the GTM report.

us solar share

  •  The U.S. installed 1,330 MWdc of solar PV in Q1 2014, up 79% over Q1 2013, making it the second-largest quarter for solar installations in the history of the market.
  •  Cumulative operating PV capacity stood at 13,395 MWdc, with 482,000 individual systems on-line as of the end of Q1 2014.
  • Growth was driven primarily by the utility solar market, which installed 873 MWdc in Q1 2014, up from 322 MWdc in Q1 2013.
  •  Q1 2014 was the first time residential PV installations exceeded non-residential (commercial) installations nationally since 2002.
  •  For the first time ever, more than 1/3 of residential PV installations came on-line without any state incentive in Q1 2014.
  •  Q1 2014 saw school, government, and nonprofit PV installations add more than 100 MWdc for the second straight quarter.
  •  74% of new electric generating capacity in the U.S. in Q1 2014 came from solar.
  •  We forecast that PV installations will reach 6.6 GWdc in 2014, up 39% over 2013 and nearly double the market size in 2012.
  •  Q1 2014 was the largest quarter ever for concentrating solar power due to the completion of the 392 MWac Ivanpah project and Genesis Solar project’s second 125 MWac phase. With a total of 857 MWac expected to be completed by year’s end, 2014 will likely be the largest year for CSP in history.
  •  Cumulative operating CSP capacity was 1,435 MWac as of the end of Q1 2014.

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About the Author

is the founding editor of, an Australian-based website that provides news and analysis on cleantech, carbon, and climate issues. Giles is based in Sydney and is watching the (slow, but quickening) transformation of Australia's energy grid with great interest.

  • Poechewe

    New installations in the U.S. solar market are expected “to jump to 6.66 Gigawatts in 2014.” Not bad. Definitely an improvement.

    But China installed 12 gigawatts of solar last year. Isn’t it time for the U.S. to start doing better and showing leadership?

    • Bob_Wallace

      China and the US are in different positions when it comes to electricity. China needs more capacity and the US is facing decreasing demand.

      That means that China is going to spend money on some sort of generation whereas the US is replacing “already working” generation. It’s an easier financial decision for China.

      • Bernard Finucane

        Excellent point, and the only realistic way electricity demand can be expected to increase in the medium term in the US is the electrification of transportation.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Electrification of rail will create more demand for solar, but EVs probably not so much. The majority of EV charging is likely to be over night. That will drive more wind turbine installation.

          • Calamity_Jean

            “Electrification of rail will create more demand for solar”

            According to Bruce McF, who knows a lot more about this than I do, electrifying American railroads would only add about 2% to electrical demand. Seems to me that it won’t be all that long before the nation is installing that much renewable energy anyway, with or without rail electrification. It’s all good, as long as we don’t add more coal or nuclear.

          • philofthefuture

            I think after Fukushima and Monday’s announcement both coal and nuclear are dead in this country. Solar and wind are cheaper than nuclear anyway, and as of Monday they are also cheaper than coal.

          • Calamity_Jean

            I hope you’re right about coal and nuclear being dead. Wind has been cheaper than coal power from newly constructed plants for some time, but it is now getting to be cheaper than coal power from existing plants. That’s important, because it means that shutting down existing coal plants can be economically justified.

            Solar isn’t yet cheaper than coal, but it’s cheaper than power from natural gas burning peaker plants that are normally used to supply the last few kilowatts needed on a sunny afternoon.

          • Bob_Wallace

            We’ve seen solar PPAs signed for 5c/kWh. Some of those PPAs (don’t know how many) do not have an inflation factor, the cost will remain at 5c for the 20, 25 years of the contract. That makes the effective long term price of solar 4c. A non-volatile 4c.

            EIA reports the operating and fuel costs for coal plants in the US in 2012 was 2.8c/kWh. New solar is getting close in price to old coal. (And greatly cheaper if we price the external costs of coal.)


            Interestingly, the production cost of coal-electricity is somewhat volatile. In 2009 it was 3.7c/kWh.

      • Most important point.

        And the other big one: one or two leaders in China can decide to go full-force at solar. In the US, we have complete gridlock in Congress (thanks, GOP) and the president can only do so much on his own.

        • Tom G.

          Well o.k.then Zachary but when one party refuses to negotiate with the other party you end up as you said grid lock.

          Example, Democrats want solar and wind to be included in legislation for Master Limited Partnership (MLP) financing which would increase renewable sources. Republicans want the Production Tax Credit and the 30% income tax credit deleted in exchange for passage.

          All it would take is for the two sides to sit down and negotiate a reasonable phased out or reduction over time of either both or one of these tax credits but no one is talking. Gridlock occurs when one party refuses to enter into a give and take discussion with the other side.

          In the end it is people like you and I and every other American that suffer. It is time for some serious changes in the way Washington works.

          • Bob_Wallace

            There’s quite a bit of wind support on the right. Some of the most windy states (Midwest, down through Oklahoma and Texas) are also some of the most conservative.

          • Calamity_Jean

            I think “quite a bit” is a little exaggerated. There are individual Republican politicians that support wind, but the party as a whole is opposed. There are individual Democratic politicians that oppose renewable energy, but the party in general is supportive.

          • Bob_Wallace

            If you look at the Republican governors who have lobbied for continued wind support and how fossil fuel industry sponsored anti-wind legislation has failed in very conservative states I think you’d come away with the opinion that there is significant support for wind on the right. Wind has become an important industry in states where jobs and revenue are badly needed.

          • philofthefuture

            Conservative Texas is #1 in wind, has substantial solar and has the largest hydrogen infrastructure.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Oklahoma is now selling wind-electricity to Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia. Money speaks in conservative circles.

          • philofthefuture

            You got that right! :<)
            Renewable energy is a whole different paradigm, when you build a coal or natural gas plant you still have to harvest the raw materials for the life of the plant. For wind and solar, all the costs are up front, the raw materials, (sun and wind), are free.
            Solar ROI is in the 17-20% range guaranteed, few if any other investments pay as much, nor are as solid. Once my panels are paid off my electricity is free for life, (unless government starts taxing the sun, ARGH!).

          • philofthefuture

            Even the Tea party has sued districts to force them to allow net metering.

          • philofthefuture

            Or it’s time to spend your own money and fill your roof with solar. There is no such thing as government money, it’s all taxpayer money. Since you are going to pay one way or another, why not cut out the middleman?

          • Tom G.

            “Since you are going to pay one way or another, why not cut out the middleman?”.

            Well yes philotthefuture you are more or less correct. However, the way renewable energy system incentives are structured, it would be financially wise to take advantage of as many incentives as possible. It is the only way we get some of OUR money back from our government, LOL.

          • philofthefuture

            My sentiments exactly! Get every damn dime back we can!

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