Clean Power

Published on March 11th, 2015 | by Joshua S Hill


US PV Installations Predicted To Pass 8 GW, Say GTM & SEIA

March 11th, 2015 by  

GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association are predicting another strong year for the US PV market in 2015, with installations expected to reach over 8 GW.

Concluding their US Solar Market Insight, 2014 Year-in-Review report, the authors from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) predict that installations will increase 31% in 2015, reaching 8.1 GW by the end of the year, with fastest growth coming from the residential sector. Non-residential solar will fit in second, with utility PV expected to be the grow the slowest compared to 2014, but still accounting for 59% of all installations brought online throughout 2015.

2015 and 2016 are the last years set to take advantage of the 30% federal investment tax credit (ITC), which is scheduled to drop to 10% for commercial projects under section 48 of the tax code, while the credit will expire entirely for individuals under section 25d. “Businesses across the solar energy industry have begun preparing for the worst while hoping for the best,” write the authors of the report.

Subsequently, 2015 and 2016 are predicted to be big, with solar business trying “to bring as much capacity online as possible before the scheduled stepdown.”

As can be seen in the graphs below, 2017 is predicted to hit the industry hard.

US PV Installation Forecast, 2010-2020E


US PV Installation Forecast by Segment, 2010-2020E


All market segments will shrink post-2016, and “some states will fall off the solar map entirely,” with “resumption of growth at a national level” set to rely solely on “several states with strong economies.”

The utility-scale market will suffer the most, thanks primarily to the challenges posed by the lower ITC, “but also because project developers have largely turned their attention to bringing their contracted projects online before the end of 2016 in order to capture the full 30% credit.”

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  • Bob_Wallace

    Anyone know if taking the 30% ITC for a wind farm is counted as accelerated depreciation?

    If so, losing 20% ITC isn’t as serious as one might think. Accelerated depreciation moves capital investment recovery forward in time. Larger tax deduction Year 1 but lower per year for following years.

  • spec9

    That is a good start. Now go up an order of magnitude.

    • jburt56

      And soon.

  • Kyle Field

    I’m really curious about that drop in 2017. Feels like panel manufacturers and installers should be hedging until then and working like crazy to cut costs so they dont have a huge spike in 2017.

    • Bob_Wallace


      I’m betting that we may see less drops in price between now and 2017. Demand is likely to soar lowering the need to drop prices.

      The smart companies are going to spend the next two years looking for ways to even out as much of the 20% loss in subsidies as possible.

      Were I a betting person I would bet that GMT’s 2018 and forward numbers are badly undersized.

      • Kyle Field

        I agree 🙂

      • Mike Shurtleff

        I sure hope you’re right, four years to get back to >10GW per year would suck.

        • Bob_Wallace

          According to the latest GMT solar summary we’re now seeing utility scale solar for around $1.40/watt. The 20% ‘to be lost’ subsidy would take the price down $0.28.

          From Q3 2012 to Q3 2013 the cost of utility solar fell 15% and over the following year dropped another 7.8%. While contract prices might flatten out due to high demand between now and 2017 I suspect the factors that caused that > 20% drop will continue to eat away at actual costs. Companies will become more efficient, permitting hurdles will be lowered, panel and component prices will fall.

          I’ll bet systems can be sold in 2017 for today’s subsidized prices. And by 2018 prices will be down a bit more.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I just updated my US solar price graph to include the Q4 2014 numbers. Just projecting those lines forward suggests that 2017 prices might be lower than today’s subsidized prices.

            Jagar Shah has been saying for some time that if solar subsidies were removed we’d see a big price drop. His opinion seems to be that subsidies are decreasing the energy that installers put into cutting costs.

            Will be interesting to watch.

  • JamesWimberley

    The analysis suggests a cynical half-way house for the solar ITC: spread the phaseout over five years, but only for utility, since residential and commercial are nowhere near as sensitive to it. After all, protecting big business and screwing the little guy are core Republican principles.

    • Aku Ankka

      To be fair, there will be some level of fall-off anyway, when phasing out subsidies. I agree in that drastic quick change is not optimal, but even with it growth afterwards will be more robust and things will get back on track.

      Plus then we should have less whining from all the anti-renewable folks claiming it’s all a boondoggle for “unreliable expensive green energy”. Should, although I guess there will be new excuses and misinformation. But at least can point out the earlier claims that “without subsidies solar would die out”.

  • Will E

    dollar is rising and Solar prices going down.
    incentives not needed now and even less in 2017.
    Solar is a money making business case.
    for residential, utility alike.
    I dont believe 2017 installation rate go down.

    • JamesWimberley

      It happened with wind, and more than once.

  • This is great news for us.

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