Quantcast

12 Reasons Why Solar Is Having an Explosive Year

Business

With a majority of Americans considering solar power to be their number one energy choice, it’s no wonder more households than ever before are going solar.

Today, GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) released the latest edition of the U.S. Solar Market Insight Report, which revealed the first three months of 2015 as the best quarter for residential solar system installations—ever.

The first three months of this year were the best on record for residential solar. Photo credit: Clean Power Finance/Mike Stough

In fact, solar represented a whopping 51 percent of all new electric generating capacity brought on-line in the first quarter (Q1) of 2015, outpacing even natural gas.

The U.S. installed 1,306 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaics (PV) in Q1 2015, marking the sixth consecutive quarter in which the U.S. added more than one gigawatt (GW) of PV installations.

Residential solar led the way, growing by 76 percent over the first quarter of 2014, with 437 megawatts (MW) of residential PV installations. That’s an 11 percent jump over last quarter, the market segment’s previous high-water mark.

But the other solar market segments showed strength, too. In fact, the industry as a whole is on track for another record year in 2015, with 66,440 total individual solar systems coming on-line this quarter. That means nearly 700,000 systems are now generating solar power in the U.S.

The non-residential segment installed 225 MW in the first quarter of the year, with five of the six largest non-residential state markets growing over Q1 2014.

Continuing to carry the largest share of the market, the utility segment installed 644 MW which represents 49 percent of new PV capacity brought on-line in Q1 2015. Despite this being the smallest quarter for the segment since 2013, utility PV installations have now surpassed 500 MW for eight consecutive quarters. What’s more, the report notes that there are now 25 project developers with projects in development of 100 MW or more.

Here are some other key findings from the report:

  • The U.S. installed 1,306 MW of solar PV in Q1 2015, marking the sixth consecutive quarter in which the U.S. added more than 1 GW of PV installations.
  • The residential and utility PV market segments each added more capacity than the natural gas industry brought on-line in Q1 2015.
  • Collectively, more than 51 percent of all new electric generating capacity in the U.S. came from solar in Q1 2015.
  • 66,440 individual solar systems came online in Q1 2015, bringing the total to nearly 700,000 nationwide.
  • The average cost for a residential solar system is now $3.48/watt, 10 percent lower than this time last year.
  • More than one-third of all community solar installations have come on-line since 2014.
  • More than 5 GW of centralized PV has now been procured by utilities based on solar’s economic competitiveness with fossil-fuel alternatives.
  • Through Q1 2015, nearly one-fourth of cumulative residential solar installations have now come on-line without any state incentive.
  • PV installations are forecast to reach 7.9 GW in 2015, up 27 percent over 2014. Growth will occur in all segments, but will be most rapid in the residential market.
  • 2014 was the largest year ever for concentrating solar power, with 767 MW brought on-line. The next notable CSP project slated for completion is SolarReserve’s 110 MW Crescent Dunes, which entered the commissioning phase in 2014 and is expected to become fully operational before the end of 2015.

Today’s report proves just how effective establishing and maintaining forward-looking public policies, like the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), are to the industry.

The ITC has helped solar to become the fastest-growing renewable energy source in America. Why? Simply put, the ITC provides important market certainty, encouraging companies to make long-term investments that drive competition and technological innovation, while lowering costs to consumers.

But the best is yet to come. By the end of 2016, the U.S. will be generating enough clean solar energy to power 8 million homes, helping to offset 45 million metric tons of damaging carbon emissions—the equivalent of removing 10 million cars off our roads and highways.

No matter how you look at it, that’s a win all the way around!

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Watch Live Cam of 14,000 Walruses Chillin’ on Alaskan Beach

Take a Tour of the World’s Most Sustainable Office Building

World Leaders Urged to Kick Coal Habit to Save Lives, Money and the Planet

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Micromobility is the future of transportation in cities, but cities and investors need to plan ahead to avoid challenges. Jonny Kennaugh / Unsplash

By Carlo Ratti, Ida Auken

On the window of a bike shop in Copenhagen, a sign reads: Your next car is a bike.

Read More Show Less
An American flag waves in the wind at the Phillip Burton Federal Building in San Francisco, California on May 17 where a trial against Monsanto took place. Alva and Alberta Pilliod, were awarded more than $2 billion in damages in their lawsuit against Monsanto, though the judge in the case lowered the damage award to $87 million. JOSH EDELSON / AFP / Getty Images

By Carey Gillam

For the last five years, Chris Stevick has helped his wife Elaine in her battle against a vicious type of cancer that the couple believes was caused by Elaine's repeated use of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide around a California property the couple owned. Now the roles are reversed as Elaine must help Chris face his own cancer.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Butterfly habitats have fallen 77 percent in the last 50 years. Pixabay / Pexels

The last 50 years have been brutal for wildlife. Animals have lost their habitats and seen their numbers plummet. Now a new report from a British conservation group warns that habitat destruction and increased pesticide use has on a trajectory for an "insect apocalypse," which will have dire consequences for humans and all life on Earth, as The Guardian reported.

Read More Show Less
Six of the nineteen wind turbines which were installed on Frodsham Marsh, near the coal-powered Fiddler's Ferry power station, in Helsby, England on Feb. 7, 2017.

Sales of electric cars are surging and the world is generating more and more power from renewable sources, but it is not enough to cut greenhouse gas emissions and to stop the global climate crisis, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Read More Show Less
"Globally, we're starting to see examples of retailers moving away from plastics and throwaway packaging, but not at the urgency and scale needed to address this crisis." Greenpeace

By Jake Johnson

A Greenpeace report released Tuesday uses a hypothetical "Smart Supermarket" that has done away with environmentally damaging single-use plastics to outline a possible future in which the world's oceans and communities are free of bags, bottles, packaging and other harmful plastic pollutants.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Children are forced to wear masks due to the toxic smoke from peat land fires in Indonesia. Aulia Erlangga / CIFOR

By Irene Banos Ruiz

Pediatricians in New Delhi, India, say children's lungs are no longer pink, but black.

Our warming planet is already impacting the health of the world's children and will shape the future of an entire generation if we fail to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius (35.6°F), the 2019 Lancet Countdown Report on health and climate change shows.

Read More Show Less
Private homes surround a 20 inch gas liquids pipeline which is part of the Mariner East II project on Oct. 5, 2017 in Marchwood, Penn. Robert Nickelsberg / Getty Images

The FBI is looking into how the state of Pennsylvania granted permits for a controversial natural gas pipeline as part of a corruption investigation, the AP reports.

Read More Show Less
Three cows who were washed off their North Carolina island by Hurricane Dorian have been found alive after swimming at least two miles. Carolina Wild Ones / Facebook

Three cows who were washed off their North Carolina island by Hurricane Dorian have been found alive after swimming at least two miles, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Read More Show Less