Small Solar Surging: 13% Of New US Power Plant Capacity In 2014

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Originally posted at ilsr.org.

The growth of solar has continued at a furious pace, with a new record of 6.2 gigawatts installed in the United States in 2014. But the bigger tale may be the persistent growth of small-scale solar, on residential and non-residential rooftops (and property).  These projects, a megawatt or smaller, contributed 13% of new power plant capacity in 2014, also a new record.

The following chart shows the 2014 data.usa new power plant capacity additions 2014 ILSR v3

It’s not just 2014 that’s newsworthy, however. The next chart shows that this continues a trend toward renewable energy, generally, and toward distributed renewable energy. And these smaller scale power plants create more opportunities for local ownership, directing more of the economic value of new power plants into local economies.

us power plant capacity additions 2003-2014 ILSR

SEIA solar market share estimateThe sustained growth of small-scale solar continues the unraveling of the utility’s un-natural monopoly. It also brings a sharper focus on the $48 billion opportunity for US electricity customers in energy efficiency and distributed renewable energy development.

The opportunity may only grow. The Solar Energy Industries Association estimates that residential solar alone will represent 45% of the solar market from 2017-2020. Combined with non-residential small-scale solar, distributed solar is expected to be nearly 75% of the solar market!

What’s the takeaway from the impressive showing of small-scale solar in 2014?

We’re nearing the turning point toward a more democratic energy system.

This article originally posted at ilsr.org. For timely updates, follow John Farrell on Twitter or get the Democratic Energy weekly update.


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John Farrell

John directs the Democratic Energy program at ILSR and he focuses on energy policy developments that best expand the benefits of local ownership and dispersed generation of renewable energy. His seminal paper, Democratizing the Electricity System, describes how to blast the roadblocks to distributed renewable energy generation, and how such small-scale renewable energy projects are the key to the biggest strides in renewable energy development.   Farrell also authored the landmark report Energy Self-Reliant States, which serves as the definitive energy atlas for the United States, detailing the state-by-state renewable electricity generation potential. Farrell regularly provides discussion and analysis of distributed renewable energy policy on his blog, Energy Self-Reliant States (energyselfreliantstates.org), and articles are regularly syndicated on Grist and Renewable Energy World.   John Farrell can also be found on Twitter @johnffarrell, or at jfarrell@ilsr.org.

John Farrell has 518 posts and counting. See all posts by John Farrell