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The United States solar industry installed an impressive 2 gigawatts of new solar capacity during the first quarter of 2017, with prices falling to ever-new lows, including utility-scale systems dropping to below the $1 per-watt barrier for the first time.

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United States Added 2 Gigawatts Of Solar PV In 1st Quarter Of 2017

The United States solar industry installed an impressive 2 gigawatts of new solar capacity during the first quarter of 2017, with prices falling to ever-new lows, including utility-scale systems dropping to below the $1 per-watt barrier for the first time.

The United States solar industry installed an impressive 2 gigawatts of new solar capacity during the first quarter of 2017, with prices falling to ever-new lows, including utility-scale systems dropping to below the $1 per-watt barrier for the first time.

These are the key findings from the latest US Solar Market Insight Report published this week by GTM Research and the US Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). It was the sixth-straight quarter the US installed more than 2 gigawatts (GW) of solar PV, totalling 2,044 megawatts (MW) for the quarter, which while impressive was nevertheless a 2% decrease on the same quarter a year ago. Solar also accounted for 30% of all the new electric generating capacity brought online in the first quarter in the US.

“The solar market clearly remains on a strong upward trajectory,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO. “Solar is delivering more clean energy, adding jobs 17 times faster than the US economy and creating tens of billions of dollars in investment. With its cost-competitiveness, we know solar will continue to play a growing role in America’s energy portfolio.”

Across the three primary segments, there were numerous changes from previous quarters. A total of 563 MW of residential solar was installed in the first quarter, down 11% from the previous quarter and down 17% from the same quarter a year earlier. This was the first time since GTM Research has been tracking the market that national residential installations fell on both a quarter-over-quarter basis and a year-over-year basis. This is primarily due to a fall in California’s performance, which dropped its share of the market to 35% in the first quarter — again, the lowest quarterly share since GTM Research has been collecting this data.

Non-residential solar PV saw a total of 399 MW installed in the first quarter, down 34% from the fourth quarter in 2016, but up 29% year-over-year. Utility PV saw a total of 1,082 MW installed over the first quarter, the sixth consecutive quarter that over a GW was installed. GTM Research also reports that the utility PV pipeline currently totals an impressive 21.7 GW.

“Utility solar is on the cusp of another boom in procurement,” said Cory Honeyman, GTM Research’s associate director of US solar. “The majority of utility solicitations are focused on maximizing the number of projects that can come on-line with the 30 percent federal Investment Tax Credit in 2019, or later by leveraging commence-construction rules.”

Looking forward, GTM Research predicts that a total of 12.6 GW of new solar will come online in 2016, 16% down on 2016’s record figures. Further, GTM predicts that total cumulative US capacity will nearly triple over the next five years, with more than 18 GW being installed annually by 2022.

 
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