US Solar Energy Market Eclipses 100 Gigawatts
WASHINGTON – The U.S. solar energy market has surpassed 100 gigawatts of installed electric generating capacity, doubling the size of the industry over the last three-and-a-half years, according to a new report from the Solar Energy Industries Association and Wood Mackenzie.
The market insight report covering industry developments up to and including the second quarter of this year, also found that the solar energy industry now accounts for 58% of all new electric generating capacity.
“It’s incredible to see the solar industry pass 100 gigawatts after the policy and regulatory hurdles we’ve faced over the last few years,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the association.
“While we’re poised for more growth, we must accelerate solar and storage deployment to address the climate crisis and reach President Biden’s ambitious clean energy goals. Long-term policy certainty is the best way to do that, and we’re urging Congress to act this summer,” she said.
The U.S. solar industry installed 5 GW of new capacity in the first quarter of 2021, a 46% increase over the first quarter of 2020.
Incidentally, 1 GW of power is enough energy to support about 300,000 homes, according to industry estimates.
The utility-scale sector accounts for a majority of these installations, with a first quarter record of 3.6 GW. Residential solar sales continued to grow, with the sector adding 905 megawatts in the first quarter 2021, an 11% increase over the same period last year.
For the first time, the U.S. Solar Market Insight report breaks out commercial and community solar as separate market segments. The commercial sector grew by 19% from the first quarter of 2020 and the community solar sector declined 15% from the first quarter of 2020.
Texas led all states with 1.52 GW of new solar capacity in the first quarter, more than it added in all of 2019 and three times more than any other state. Indiana, Virginia, Michigan, and Iowa were among the top 10 solar states this quarter.
According to forecasts from Wood Mackenzie, the solar Investment Tax Credit will continue to be highly influential and will drive record growth and investment over the next three years. The forecast calls for 160 GW of solar capacity to be installed from 2021 to 2026, bringing total installed photovoltaic solar capacity to more than 250 GW by the end of 2026.
The report also calls attention to rising costs in the solar industry and helps to explain the dynamics at play. While average solar system prices remained relatively stable from the fourth quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2021, key inputs for solar modules and installations, including polysilicon, steel, aluminum, semiconductor chips, copper and other metals, are facing supply constraints. Compounding cost increases across all materials started at the end of the first quarter and are beginning to affect installers now.
“Demand for solar power continues to grow, but attention is now turning to supply chain constraints, which have heightened since the latter half of 2020,” said Michelle Davis, principal analyst and lead author of the report. “There is a lag between commodity prices and subsequent solar system prices. But there’s no doubt this is impacting the solar industry. Installers are managing current equipment shortages and having to decide whether to renegotiate contracts.”
In The News
The number of people working in the renewable energy sector worldwide reached 12 million last year, up from 11.3 million... Read More
The number of people working in the renewable energy sector worldwide reached 12 million last year, up from 11.3 million in 2019, according to a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency. The eighth edition of “Renewable Energy and Jobs: Annual Review 2021,” was written... Read More
LONDON (AP) — The world needs to cut by more than half its production of coal, oil and gas in... Read More
LONDON (AP) — The world needs to cut by more than half its production of coal, oil and gas in the coming decade to maintain a chance of keeping global warming from reaching dangerous levels, according to a U.N.-backed study released Wednesday. The report published by... Read More
Scott Breneman told a congressional subcommittee Monday about how his fishing business was upended by the Orange County oil spill... Read More
Scott Breneman told a congressional subcommittee Monday about how his fishing business was upended by the Orange County oil spill discovered off California’s coast on October 1. After a day of fishing 90 miles off the coast, “We were coming in the harbor and I detected... Read More
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — A group studying the economics of offshore wind energy in the U.S. says building and... Read More
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — A group studying the economics of offshore wind energy in the U.S. says building and operating the nascent industry will be worth $109 billion to businesses in its supply chain over the next 10 years. The report by the Special Initiative... Read More
BOSTON, Mass. -- Interior Secretary Deb Haaland told attendees at a wind energy conference on Wednesday that the Biden administration... Read More
BOSTON, Mass. -- Interior Secretary Deb Haaland told attendees at a wind energy conference on Wednesday that the Biden administration wants to dramatically expand the nation’s use of wind power, opening large swaths of coastal waters to wind farm development. In a speech before American Clean... Read More
WASHINGTON — Senior analysts from the Breakthrough Institute circulated a letter on Thursday compelling Congressional leaders to extend federal clean-energy... Read More
WASHINGTON — Senior analysts from the Breakthrough Institute circulated a letter on Thursday compelling Congressional leaders to extend federal clean-energy tax credits to advanced nuclear energy. Breakthrough Institute's Jameson McBride, senior climate and energy analyst, and Adam Stein, senior nuclear analyst, jointly authored the letter in... Read More