Clean Power

Published on February 22nd, 2016 | by Joshua S Hill


US Solar PV Industry Installs Record 7.3 GW In 2015

February 22nd, 2016 by  

The US solar PV industry installed a record 7,286 MW of solar PV in 2015, according to new figures published by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association.

The new figures were released today by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) ahead of their scheduled US Solar Market Insight report, which is due out March 9. Maybe most importantly, for the first time ever, solar beat out natural gas capacity additions in 2015, with solar supplying a total of 29.5% of all new electric generating capacity in the US during 2015.

US Solar PV Installations, 2000-2015 


“Without a doubt, 2015 was a monumental year for the US solar industry, and perhaps what’s most amazing is that we’re only getting started,” said SEIA president and CEO Rhone Resch. “Over the next few years, we’re going to see solar continue to reach unprecedented heights as our nation makes a shift toward a carbon-free source of energy that also serves as an economic, job-creating engine.”

The residential solar market eclipsed expectations, growing 66% year over year, and for the first time ever surpassed 2 GW. The residential solar segment now represents 29% of the entire US solar market, its largest market share since 2009. This is also the fourth year in a row the country’s non-residential sector broke the 1 GW mark, though remaining roughly flat year over year. The utility-solar sector grew 6% year over year and represented more than half of all solar PV installations in 2015, maintaining its position as the country’s mainstay solar sector.

Share of US PV Installations by Segment, 2000-2015 


All up, cumulative US solar PV installations have now passed 25 GW, up from only 2 GW in 2010.

“The US solar market remains concentrated in key states, with the top ten states accounting for 87% of installed capacity in 2015,” said Shayle Kann, Senior Vice President of GTM Research. “But growth has been widespread, and 24 of the 35 states that we track individually saw market growth in 2015.”

Unsurprisingly, as it has been for some time now, the US solar market was led by California, North Carolina, Nevada, Massachusetts, and New York. The market is also diversifying, with 13 states installing more than 100 MW each in 2015, with Utah stepping up from 23rd to 7th place, and Georgia moving from 16th to 8th.

Ranking States by Annual PV Installations 


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  • George Costanza

    why aren’t some of the sunniest states in Deep South on this list? that is a travesty.

    we need to catch up to China or we will be as polluted as it is currently.

    “In February 2014, China’s NDRC upgraded its 2014 target from 10 GW to 14 GW[22] (later adjusted to 13 GW[23]) and ended up installing an estimated 10.6 GW due to shortcomings in the distributed PV sector”. don’t know if China went up in 2015 or not yet (and hopefully their own self-reported data is reasonably accurate).

  • Brian

    Florida, unfortunately has done bad, even though it gets much better sun than most states, because Florida power and Light has bought off their venal politicians including the republicans like Jeb Bush, who supports FPL, and blocks solar power. The nefarious republicans will stop at nothing to support the masters in the dirty fossil fuel industry, and Nevada and Florida have very little solar installed thanks to their avarice.

    • George Costanza

      it makes no sense…it would be a natural fit; there wouldn’t have to be oil rigs in Gulf polluted wate algal blooms red tides d98ed zones ruined beaches ruined tourism livelihoods cancer clusters all for what?

  • JamesWimberley

    The commercial sector has been essentially flat for four years. Strange. Perhaps the entry of the big solar leasing companies, able to offer fairly standardised packages including design, maintenance and financing, will create the conditions for the long-awaited liftoff.

  • vensonata

    So this stat answers some speculations from the comments on Hillary vs Sanders energy plans. Hillary wants 137 gw of PV installed on rooftops by 2020. We installed 2 Gw last year on rooftops. And a total of 7 Gw combined. Now the ambition is to install 35 Gw per year for 4 years. That is a 5 fold increase suddenly. Basically it cannot be done. The manufacturing capacity is simply not there. But I would like Hillary to plan to increase the manufacturing capacity for PV by 5 fold by 2020. That I can imagine.

    • Matt

      The manufacturing capacity is there just not in USA. So several steps to see massive increase.
      (1) Remove tariffs on all imported panels/cell
      (2) Remove all direct/indirect support for fossil fuels
      (3) Carbon fee/dividend system. Start small $50/ton and ramp up $20/ton/quarter until $500/ton. Include WTO already approved carbon tariffs on import to protect economy.
      Total US PV is now over 25 GW, so will give you that 35GW/year is still a few years off. Of course in 2010 the total was 2 GW. So in 5 years we now of 12.25 times the PV we had end of 2010. If did that over next 5 year we would have 306 GW. No saying we will get there, just that this kind of growth is hard to wrap your mind around.

    • neroden

      No, no, this is how it works:
      2 GW last year
      4 GW this year
      8 GW 2017
      16 GW 2018
      32 GW 2019
      64 GW 2020

      Exponential growth. The trouble is we aren’t quite expanding this fast and I don’t think we can. The doubling time is every *two* years, not every year.

      • vensonata

        Well, that is how exponential math works on a page for sure. Whether that is the way PV manufacturing and installation works is another matter. We do see, over the last decade perhaps, the upward sweeping curve for PV but we are probably going to see it start to level off to a gentle incline soon. It is just the time it takes to build factories…see the solar city factory which is the largest at a mere 1 gw per year. We need 20 of those, unless China wants to fill in.

    • George Costanza

      apparently even in china it isn’t there yet…but they are doing double (per their own stats). so whichever state can educ. as many installers as poss and ramp up production will ‘win’ race to clean energy future….sadly this never comes up in debates and hysteria about ch!na ‘beating’ us; always goes back to MIC; but if we didn’t NEED to ‘free’ oil and gas from asia pacific region we would be self sufficient (and so would other nations) and negate need to try to control entire regions for oil.

  • jburt56

    Next milestone 10 GW per year. . .

  • Frank

    “we’re only getting started” I sure hope so. There is still a lot more coal capacity on the grid than solar.

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