U.S. Off-Site Solar Installations Gather Pace Despite Pandemic

A rapid growth in the U.S. off-site corporate solar projects are set to accelerate further with the covid-19 pandemic taking a large toll on onsite installations, according to a Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) report.

Over the next three years, nearly 60% of all corporate capacity installed is expected to be off site. Since 2015, nearly 2 Giga Watts of off site solar have come online, representing nearly half of all the commercial projects that the report tracked.

Off site projects refer to those not connected to the electricity grid, which are generally only available to the largest commercial players. However, community solar projects are catching on and offering the benefits to smaller players as well.

Around 44% of all commercial solar capacity are now being accounted for by off-site projects. The demand for such installations are the most among retail businesses, while individual rooftop systems are the commonest.

The report noted that the covid-19 pandemic either halted or delayed the onsite installations during this year’s second quarter with social distancing protocols impacting the business. However, since then the business has largely recovered.

On-site installations are expected to take a major dip this year primarily due to the coronavirus, but also due to transitioning state incentive structures that have made rooftop solar less attractive in certain markets, the report said.

On the other hand, large corporates developing major offsite installations reported few delays in their work schedules. However, some smaller companies installing solar rooftops have either scaled down, delayed or cancelled projects altogether to save on expenses.

A record total of off-site installations should more than make up for the rooftop deficit, making 2020 the largest year for corporate solar installations. Over the next 3 years, more than 5 GW of off-site solar is expected to come online, the report added. Community solar is expected to add another 2.5 GW.

It would also be safe to state that a significant part of these offsite installations will opt for storage alongside, as a drop in storage costs is a key reason for many firms to consider them in the first place.

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