2015 set to go down in solar history
December 10, 2015 | By Barbara Vergetis Lundin
Could 2015 be the United States solar market's best year in history? A new report shows that is shaping up to be -- with record-breaking fourth quarter projections.
According to GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association, the U.S. installed 1,361 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity in the third quarter of the 2015, marking the eighth consecutive quarter in which the U.S. has installed more than a gigawatt (GW) of PV capacity.
"This past quarter marked the calm before the storm," said GTM Research Senior Solar Analyst Cory Honeyman. "The one-gigawatt mark for quarterly capacity additions will serve as a distant floor as project developers ramp up installations in the next five quarters before the planned step down of the 30 percent federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC)."
GTM Research expects the fourth quarter of this year to be the largest quarter for solar installations in U.S. history. Led by the utility-scale segment, GTM predicts the United States will install more than 3 GW. Looking further out, cumulative PV installations will nearly double between now and the end of 2016, bringing the nationwide total to 41 GW.
The utility-scale market continues to lead the U.S. solar market. Utility-scale PV installations made up 42 percent of the nationwide total, while residential installations accounted for 41 percent. Additionally, the residential market hit another new quarterly record as it grew 69 percent year-over year.
Despite some inconsistencies in the non-residential market, the research notes this segment also made progress, increasing 4 percent year-over-year and 19 percent over last quarter.
GTM Research forecasts that the U.S. solar PV market as a whole will grow 19 percent over 2014 and reach 7.4 GW by the end of 2015.
"Year after year, we're seeing the demand for solar energy in America skyrocket, and the benefits that brings to both our nation's economy and environment are staggering," said Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO. "As we gear up for what's expected to be an unprecedented year for our industry, and nation, this report reveals just how important it is to maintain smart, effective, forward-looking public policies, like the ITC."
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