Two Graphs Highlighting Growth Surge In US Solar Market

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Originally published on RenewEconomy.

These two graphs pretty much speak for themselves. They highlight the surge in growth in the solar market in the US – encompassing residential and commercial solar, utility scale solar PV and concentrated solar power.

solar-US-590x446The graphs come from a recent presentation by the Solar Energy Industry Association in the US.  By the end of 2015, it expects accumulated capacity in the US to reach 28GW. It has another 36GW of utility scale solar in the pipeline, and the residential market, now at just over one million homes, is also expected to surge.

This is represented in the next graph, with utility scale solar leading the way, and residential installations surging ahead of commercial and industrial installations. The SEIA expects 18 per cent growth and a new installation every 2.5 minutes.


In 2014, 36 per cent of all electricity capacity was solar. But by 2016, it will still account for 1.6 per cent of the total generation mix.

Reprinted with permission.

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Giles Parkinson

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.

Giles Parkinson has 596 posts and counting. See all posts by Giles Parkinson

6 thoughts on “Two Graphs Highlighting Growth Surge In US Solar Market

  • The sleeper is commercial solar. Why did it plateau for three years while utility and residential made out like bandits? Possibly these were simply easier markets to crack. House roofs and fields are pretty much the same everywhere, but every shopping centre, warehouse, or school is physically different. Add to that the complexities of ownership, rental, and tax, and a commercial contract is much more trouble. But it’s a much larger share of the potential market, and self-consumption patterns are a better fit for solar than with residential, and higher value than utility. I predict the sector will catch up.

    • Hi James:

      It could be that most commercial space is leased and there is little if any incentive for a lease holder to install solar. Also a lot of leased space is fairly transitory meaning new business startup up and associated short term failures.

      This is however a guess on my part, LOL. Have a great day.

      • Commercial leases are different than residential leases. Often a commercial lessee is responsible for virtually everything about their facility. So there is incentive to install solar. But it may not be easy or even possible to create a contract to add a power plant to the roof of the lessors building.

    • I think that you are right that the commercial sector has room to and will catch up on the growth/installation rates.
      . This doesn’t apply every place in the US, but I think most of the reason for slow growth is the soft costs and convoluted installation process in getting permits or approval from the utilities.
      . Here locally up until two years ago businesses were limited to 20Kw or 40Kw systems depending on their size and overall usage if they wanted to qualify for the net metering. Yes they could go larger, but it required a lot more hassle arranging PPA’s with the local utility if they could get them to agree.
      . Things are starting to improve, but my state is still pretty neutral on policies for getting solar installed, basically just following federal mandates, which can still require a lot of hoop jumping.

  • Sorry, I’m having a problem with the two charts.
    – If I look at chart 1, non-residential I see years 2011-2014; about 1GW/year.
    – If I look at chart 2, oh wait the label is easy to misread. They are both yearly installations by segment.
    “Installed PV by market segment” to me read much more like “Cumulative Install PV” than “Yearly installation of PV”
    So non-residential Cumulative wasn’t flat, it just the the rate of installation didn’t grow.
    Some of the utility is really “non-residential”. that is a company is not sure they will stay in the leased office space, so they buy into a large farm. They can then take the power (farm) with them when they change leased space.

  • I think the 2nd to last line is an error. It should probably read “In 2014, 36 per cent of all electricity capacity (GROWTH) was solar.” Without the word “growth” it doesn’t make sense.

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