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Solar Industry Growing at a Record Pace

Solar energy in the United States is booming. Along with our partners at GTM Research and The Solar Foundation, SEIA tracks trends and trajectories in the solar industry that demonstrate the diverse and sustained growth across the country.

Below you will find charts and factoids that summarize the state of solar in the U.S. SEIA Members have access to presentation slide decks that contain this data and much more. Not a SEIA Member? Join today!

Solar Growth and the ITC

The Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) has provided industry stability and growth since its initial passage in 2006. In the last decade, solar has experienced an average annual growth rate of 68%. To learn more about the ITC and its impact on the solar industry, click here.

Solar as an Economic Engine

Nearly 250,000 Americans work in solar at more than 9,000 companies in every U.S. state.

Growth in Solar is led by Falling Prices

The cost to install solar has dropped by more than 70% since 2010, leading the industry to expand into new markets and deploy thousands of systems nationwide. However, over the second half of 2017 we’ve seen slight upticks in system prices due to increases in module costs caused by the section 201 trade case.

Solar Growth and Price Decline

Solar's Share of New Capacity has Grown Rapidly

In 2016, Solar installed 39% of all new electric generating capacity, topping all other technologies for the first time. Solar’s increasing competitiveness against other technologies has allowed it to quickly increase its share of total U.S. electrical generation- from just 0.1% in 2010 to 1.4% today. By 2020 solar should surpass 3% of total generation is expected to hit 5% by 2022. 

Annual Additions of New Electric Capacity

U.S. Solar Market Through Q3 2017: Key Takeaways

 

2,031 MW installed in Q3 2017

 

  • Down 51% from a record-breaking Q3 2016
  • Trade case uncertainty has pushed back utility-scale timelines, leading to projected Q4 2017 eclipsing 5 GW, the second-largest quarter in history

Over 49 GW of total solar capacity now installed

  • Average annual growth rate of 68% over the last 10 years
  • Generates enough electricity to power 9.5 million homes

Through Q3, solar has accounted for 25% of all new capacity installed in 2017

  • Builds upon strong 2016 in which solar accounted for 39% of all new capacity, ranking 1st
  • Solar currently generates 1.8% of all electricity nationally

Solar prices have dropped 3 - 11% over the last 12 months, depending on segment

  • Cost drops have slowed, however, because of module cost increases stemming from the Section 201 trade case
  • 27 states expected to be at grid parity for residential by end of 2017 (only 12 in 2014)
  • Utility-scale PPAs now signed at $28 - $45 per MWh

There are now nearly 1.6 million solar installations in the U.S.

  • After reaching 1 million in 2016, 2 million should be hit in 2018 and 4 million by 2022

Solar PV Price Breakdown

The biggest cost-decline opportunity in the solar industry exists in soft costs, which includes labor, permitting/inspection and supply chain. The U.S. Department of Energy is leading the charge on reducing soft costs, and SEIA and The Solar Foundation are working with cities and counties to streamline permitting processes and reduce local barriers to going solar. 

Q3 2017 Quoted PV Prices

The U.S Solar Industry is a 50 State Market

While California has traditionally dominated the U.S. solar market - with 35% market share in 2016 - other markets are continuing to expand, including Minnesota, Utah, Florida and Texas. As the price of solar continues to fall, new state entrants will grab an increasingly larger share of the national market.

State Solar Capacity Q4 2017

New Market Opportunities for Distributed Solar

After years of 50%+ annual growth, residential market growth has slowed in several states as installers re-orient their sales strategies. But increasing development in emerging markets like Utah, Texas, South Carolina and Florida should help the national residential market return to annual growth in 2018. Meanwhile, the rapid rise of community solar has boosted the non-residential segment in recent years, coupled with increasing numbers of both off-site and rooftop corporate procurement by such companies as Walmart, Apple, Target and Amazon

Yearly U.S. Solar Photovoltaic Installations

Utility-Scale Solar Pipeline

In 2016, 72% of all solar capacity installed was utility-scale, and this segment should account for at least two-thirds of all solar capacity again in 2017. At nearly 22 GW, the contracted pipeline is larger than its ever been, with recent procurement focused on completion dates in 2019 and 2020.  

U.S. Utility Scale PV Pipeline

U.S. Solar PV Growth Forecast

While 2017 installations are expected drop slightly from a record-shattering 2016, the 11.8 GW expected is nearly two thirds larger than 2015, the second largest year on record. After rapidly completing a record buildout in 2016 and 2017, developers will be looking to procure new projects with completion targets moving into the next decade. By 2021 there will be over 100 GW of solar installed in the U.S., with annual totals nearing 15 GW by 2022.  

U.S. solar deployment forecast

Solar Helps K-12 Schools and Fortune 500 Companies Save Money

Data from SEIA's annual Solar Means Business report show that major U.S. corporations, including Target, Walmart and Apple are going solar at an incredible rate. The top 25 corporate solar users in America have installed nearly 1,100 MW of capacity at 2,000 different facilities across the country as of October 2016.

Other key takeaways:

  • The amount of solar installed at U.S. corporations and businesses is enough to offset 1.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year
  • Commercial prices have fallen by 58% since 2012 and by 16% in the last year

Explore the map below to see where the top 25 corporate solar users in the U.S. have installed solar energy systems. Click here to view the full Solar Means Business Report.

 

 

SEIA, The Solar Foundation and Generation 180 produced Brighter Future: A Study on Solar in U.S. Schools, which shows that more than 5,500 K-12 schools nationwide have installed solar energy systems. Check out the map below, and click here to access more materials from the report.

Each pin on the map below represents a K-12 school or school district with a solar energy system. For a fullscreen version, click here.

Solar Schools Map Legend