Solar accounted for 40% of all new electric generating capacity in the US in 2019, its highest share ever and more than any other source, with 13.3 GW installed
Solar accounted for 40 percent of all new electric generating capacity in the US in 2019, its highest share ever and more than any other source of electricity, with 13.3 gigawatts (GW) installed. Despite policy challenges and a second year of the Section 201 tariffs, the U.S. solar market grew by 23 percent from 2018, according to the US Solar Market Insight 2019 Year-in-Review report, released by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie.
“Even as tariffs have slowed our growth, we’ve always said that the solar industry is resilient, and this report demonstrates that,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of SEIA. “We know anecdotally that the COVID-19 pandemic is starting to impact delivery schedules and that it could affect demand for solar as well as our ability to meet project completion deadlines based partly on new labor shortages. This once again is testing our industry’s resilience, but we believe, over the long run, we are well-positioned to outcompete incumbent generators in the Solar+ Decade and to continue growing our market share.”
According to the report, the total installed PV capacity in the US is projected to rise by 47 percent in 2020, with nearly 20 GW of new installations expected by the end of the year. Each of the next two years is expected to be the largest on record for the US solar industry.
The residential solar sector saw record-setting installation totals with more than 2.8 GW installed, led by a record year in California and continued growth in emerging markets. The segment saw an annual growth of 15 percent while achieving its highest installation volumes in history. But emerging markets also deserve credit for this year’s record-breaking installations as Florida installed the second most rooftop solar in the country after California.
“With much of the residential solar market to-date driven by California and Northeast states, Florida is a window into the future of the national residential solar market given its resemblance to the vast swath of markets with no state-wide incentive programs or the high electricity prices that make rooftop solar so attractive,” said Austin Perea, Senior Analyst with Wood Mackenzie.
Meanwhile, the utility-scale market added 8.4 GW of new capacity in 2019, more than half of which came online in the fourth quarter. The 4.4 GW of utility PV installed in the fourth quarter makes it the second-largest quarter in history for the market. A total of 30.4 GW of new utility PV projects were announced in 2019, bringing the contracted pipeline to a record high of 48.1 GW.
The report added that over the next five years, the total installed US PV capacity will more than double, with annual installations reaching 20.4 GW in 2021 prior to the expiration of the federal solar Investment Tax Credit for residential systems and a drop to 10 percent for commercial and utility-scale customers.