USA installed 10.6 GW solar capacity in 2018

US utility PV pipeline

For the third year in a row, the U.S. solar industry installed double-digit GW of PV capacity, with 10.6 GW coming online in 2018. The amount was a 2 percent decrease from 2017. However, the forecast shows the market rebounding in the years ahead, according to the newly released and updated »Solar Market Insight 2018« (SMI) report, published by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables.
Residential solar growth stabilized in 2018 after the previous year’s contraction, says the report. »The U.S. residential solar market has now seen five consecutive quarters of modest growth, and the fourth quarter of 2018 was the largest quarter for residential solar in two years.« Nearly 315,000 households added solar in 2018. California and Nevada drove the lion’s share of residential growth in 2018. Texas and Florida, two states with generally low solar penetration, stood out in 2018, adding more capacity than some of the highest penetration states. These emerging solar markets are poised to become the engines of growth for residential solar in the U.S.
Non-residential PV saw an annual decline of 8 percent, largely due to policy shifts in states like California and Massachusetts. There were 6.2 GW of utility solar installed in 2018, accounting for 58 percent of total U.S. annual capacity additions.
In total, solar PV accounted for 29 percent of new electricity generating capacity additions in 2018, slightly less than in 2017 due to a surge in new natural gas plants. According to the study, in 2018, 13.2 GW of utility-scale solar power purchase agreements were signed, »pushing the contracted project pipeline to its highest point in the history of U.S. solar.« Cumulative operating solar photovoltaic capacity now stands at 62.4 GW, about 75 times more than was installed at the end of 2008.
»The total amount of solar installed in America is on track to more than double in the next five years, proving solar’s resiliency and its economic strength,« commented SEIA’s president and CEO, Abigail Ross Hopper. »The next decade is going to be one of significant growth.« Wood Mackenzie forecasts 14 percent growth in 2019 compared to 2018, with over 12 GW of installations expected. Total installed US PV capacity will more than double over the next five years, with annual installations reaching 15.8 GW in 2021 prior to the expiration of the residential federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and a drop in the commercial tax credit to 10 percent for projects not yet under construction.
The report »Solar Market Insight« is a quarterly publication of Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables Inc. and SEIA. An executive summary is available free of charge at »«.

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