US Solar Market Witnesses Best 1st Quarter in History

In the first 3 months of the year, the U.S. installed 2.7 GW of solar PV, making it the most solar capacity ever installed in the first quarter of a year.

U.S. Solar Quarter

According to a new report, in the first three months of the year, the U.S. installed 2.7 GW of solar photovoltaics (PV), making it the most solar capacity ever installed in the first quarter of any year in its history.

This data comes from the new U.S. Solar Market Insight Report from Wood Mackenzie and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), who have predicted that there will be a 25 percent growth in 2019 compared to 2018, as it expects more than 13 GW of installations by the end of the year.

U.S Solar Quarter

“The first quarter data and projections for the rest of the year are promising for the solar industry,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the SEIA. “However, if we are to make the kind of progress we need to make the 2020s The Solar Decade, we will need to make substantial policy and market advances.”

The largest share of installations during the record-breaking quarter came from the utility PV segment, with 1.6 gigawatts coming on-line, making up 61 percent of solar capacity installed. The report notes that with 4.7 gigawatts of large scale projects under construction, 2019 is on track to be a strong year for utility PV, with 46 percent growth over 2018 expected.

“Voluntary procurement of utility PV based on its economic competitiveness continues to be the primary driver of projects announced in 2019,” said Wood Mackenzie Senior Solar Analyst Colin Smith. “While many states, utilities and cities have announced or proposed 50 or 100 percent renewable energy or zero-carbon standards, the announcements have not yet resulted in an uptick in RPS-driven procurement,” added Smith.

The residential market experienced annual growth as well. According to the report, the U.S. saw 603 megawatts of residential solar installations during the first quarter, up 6 percent annually.

“Despite steady installations in Q1 2019, the residential market is still highly reliant on legacy state markets, such as California and the Northeast, which have seen only modest to flat growth over the past several quarters,” said Wood Mackenzie Solar Analyst Austin Perea. “As these major state markets continue to grow past early-adopter consumers, higher costs of customer acquisition will challenge the industry to innovate product offerings and diversify geographically,” continued Perea.

In fact, the report notes that 29 percent of residential capacity in Q1 2019 came from markets outside the top 10 solar states by capacity, the highest share for emerging markets in industry history.

The non-residential segment, which represents commercial, industrial and public sector distributed solar, saw 438 megawatts of PV installed on the quarter, which was down on both a quarterly and annual basis.

The report predicts that the total installed PV capacity will more than double over the next five years, with annual installations reaching 16.4 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% for projects not yet under construction.

Ayush Verma

Ayush Verma

Ayush is a staff writer at saurenergy.com and writes on renewable energy with a special focus on solar and wind. Prior to this, as an engineering graduate trying to find his niche in the energy journalism segment, he worked as a correspondent for iamrenew.com.

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