The US solar market is expected to grow by a phenomenal 119% in 2016, installing 16 GW by the end of the year.
The groundbreaking predictions were the key highlights from the latest US Solar Market Insight Report 2015 Year in Review, written by GTM Research and published in conjunction with the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). Specifically, the Review forecasts the utility-scale solar segment to lead the way in 2016, accounting for nearly three-quarters of new installations in 2016.
Despite the strong percentage share of new installations the utility-scale sector is expected to achieve in 2016, both the residential and commercial markets will also experience strong growth, with the country on the verge of its one millionth solar installation milestone.
US PV Installation Forecast, 2010-2021E
“This is a new energy paradigm and the solar industry officially has a seat at the table with the largest energy producers,” said Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO. “Because of the strong demand for solar energy nationwide, and smart public policies like the ITC and NEM, hundreds of thousands of well-paying solar jobs will be added in the next few years benefiting both America’s economy and the environment.”
The US solar industry had a strong 2015, installing a record 7.2 GW, beating out natural gas capacity additions for the first time ever, supplying 29.5% of all new electric generating capacity. That the same experts who published those numbers are now expecting that number to more than double in 2016 shows just how strong the solar industry in the US is perceived to be.
The newly re-extended federal solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is behind much of the growth expected this year, either as an incentive forcing companies to continue with rushed installation plans to qualify for the (then-) expiring ITC, or in providing long-term market certainty. Alongside the role of the ITC, the authors of the report noted three key trends they believe will drive US solar demand throughout the year: the rollout of new community solar programs, new utility-led efforts to enable corporate procurement of offsite solar, and ongoing debate over the value of rooftop solar.
“In 2016, the rooftop solar economic outlook will depend not only on favorable outcomes to net energy metering debates, but also on customer-wide and solar-specific rate structure reforms that can impact savings from solar,” said GTM Research Senior Analyst Cory Honeyman.
GTM forecasts that the non-residential PV sector will be supported by a triple-digit megawatt pipeline of community solar projects, with Colorado, Massachusetts, and Minnesota collectively installing more than 100 MW of community solar.