Solar Power Setting Records in 2023

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Solar power is expected to hit new record highs in the United States this year. In the 3rd quarter of 2023, solar installations were up 35% year over year in terms of capacity added. Federal policies from the Biden administration and the time when Democrats controlled Congress have started really kicking in and boosting the solar industry, resulting in a record-high 210,000 new solar installations.

In total, 6.5 gigawatts (GW) of solar power was added in Q3. Overall, analysts from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie expect around 33 GW of solar power capacity will be added in 2023.

“Solar remains the fastest-growing energy source in the United States, and despite a difficult economic environment, this growth is expected to continue for years to come,” said SEIA president and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper. “To maintain this forecasted growth, we must modernize regulations and reduce bureaucratic roadblocks to make it easier for clean energy companies to invest capital and create jobs.”

The report adds: “Utility-scale solar had yet another quarter of solid year-over-year growth, up 58% compared to Q3 2022. We expect utility-scale solar to end the year strong with a total of over 23 GWdc of installations, which would represent 86% growth over 2022. […]

“Third quarter installations for the residential solar market were also robust, setting another quarterly installation record. As a result, we now anticipate 13% growth in residential solar this year.”

Unfortunately, a decline in the market is expected in 2024. California, which accounts for the largest bulk of the solar power market, is expecting a dip due to net metering changes that are not friendly to the industry. However, even with that, SEIA expects the industry to bounce back and continue its long rise in 2025.

“The US solar industry is on a strong growth trajectory, with expectations of 55% growth this year and 10% growth in 2024,” said Michelle Davis, head of solar research at Wood Mackenzie and lead author of the new Solar Market Insight report. “Growth is expected to be slower starting in 2026 as various challenges like interconnection constraints become more acute. It’s critical that the industry continue to innovate to maximize the value that solar brings to an increasingly complex grid. Interconnection reform, regulatory modernization, and increasing storage attachment rates will be key tools.”

Overall, 48% of new power capacity added in the United States in 2023 through the first three quarters of 2023, the most of any power source of course. In fact, that’s double the second largest source of new power capacity, natural gas (24% of new capacity).

Total cumulatively installed solar power capacity in the country is 161 GW from 4.7 million installations. SEIA expects installed capacity to rise to 377 GW by 2028, which would provide enough electricity for an estimated 65 million US homes! We’ll be tracking it as well, and reporting back here on CleanTechnica. Stay tuned.

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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