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Published on March 9th, 2016 | by Joshua S Hill


US Solar Market Set To Grow 119% In 2016

March 9th, 2016 by  

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.

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  • Matt

    It would help if there was a link to the data in 2010-2021E chart. But just using paper ruler. Total installs looks to be a linear growth 10-15. Yes residential, show faster growth in 14-15. And of course since they used my favor “hide the information” type chart, you can tell what non-res did but for sure down from 12/13. Who decided bar graphic like this were sexy and lost information was a good thing. A simple line chart with 4 lines (res, one-res, util, total) would have been so much better. The 2016 pop then drop will likely not be as extreme not that the tax cliff has been smoothed out. Or course maybe people still want to get it done before 2017, since if GOP gets the country by the short hairs, noted what will happen.

  • Just to emphasize the astounding growth of solar: 16 GW was the global accumulated capacity a mere 5 years ago.

  • Brett

    Pretty sure those 2017 – 2021 estimates are being a bit overly conservative. 2010-2015 are looking like the blade of the hockey stick, it’s not unreasonable to expect the trend to keep growing exponentially.

    • Ross

      Yeah, can’t see any explanation in the article for why the surge in utility deployments in 2016 will fallback in 2017.

      • Magic omnibus7

        I thought the original reason was everyone trying to beat the deadline for tax breaks being cut; but they’ve already signed new legislation pushing the deadline to 2020.

        Possibly they simply adjusted the graph from old data.

        • jeffhre

          “everyone trying to beat the deadline for tax breaks being cut”

        • Ross

          Old data seems the most likely.

  • vensonata

    16 GW installed in 2016 is quite hopeful news. My rough calculation of what is really necessary is 47GW every year until 2050.(47×34) That would provide about 50% of U.S. electrical demand…if it remains at today’s levels. We need a total of 1600Gw of PV to produce the 2000 TWh required.

    • Freddy D

      Add to that electrification of the transportation sector and of the building climate control sector and it’s probably 50% to 100% higher than that (calculations anyone?).

      Will need to sustain a 30% to 100% compound growth rate for many years indeed.

      • vensonata

        Not sure. Efficiency might be adequate to prevent increases. See Denmark where they are approaching 50% wind and have reduced demand by 7% from 1990 levels (all from memory, might be slightly off)

        • TatuSaloranta

          True, although they do not yet have many EVs, so electrification has not really affected transit much. Not sure about heating (heat pumps): Sweden and Finland seem to be further with those than Denmark based eurobserver statistics.

          Interesting to see how total demand goes; I guess it is reasonable to guess it grows a bit but not drastically.

        • Martin

          Yes you are correct, energy demand has stayed about the same while their GDP more than doubled, but their CO 2 emissions went from 62 mega ton in 1990 to 40 mega ton in 2014.

      • Mike

        The building climate control situation can be somewhat adressed with increased insulation and use of heat pumps. As well, the (greatly diminished) constant energy inputs for natural gas production will be put to other uses.

        The reduction in refining petroleum will free up a huge amount power generation. Texas currently leads the US in electricity consumption and it is because of the large petroleum industry there (USEIA).

      • Kiwanda

        The solar contribution to U.S. electrical generation in 2014 was about 0.4%. Annual growth of 16% would yield 83% of today’s demand, or maybe 50% of that of 2050. Annual growth of 30% for 36 years from 2014 would yield 50 times today’s total demand.

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