2017 couldn’t repeat the success story for PV in the US as was witnessed in 2016 - the market dropped by nearly 30%; however, the 2017 additions still meant a growth of 40% over 2015. (Source: GTM Research/SEIA)
- The 10.6 GW of new capacity in the USA in 2017 pushed the total cumulative to over 53 GW, but the annual figure was a 30% decline year-on-year
- The US suffered its first annual drop of both residential and utility-scale PV installations since 2010
- Utility solar remained the largest market segment in 2017, adding 6.2 GW
- No growth is expected in 2018
- “Voluntary procurement” in 2018 is anticipated to be 33% of total annual additions
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The US added 10.6 GW PV in 2017, a 30% decline from 2016, according to the final report of GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). The installs resulted in a cumulative US PV capacity of 53.3 GW.
The 2017 figure, published in GTM Research’s US Solar Market Insight Report 2017 Year-in-Review study, is 11% lower than the 11.8 GW the consultancy had estimated at the Solar Power Northeast conference in February (see US Ended 2017 With 11.8 GW of New PV). In 2016, the US added 15.1 GW PV, a number that has been revised from the originally published 14.6 GW. (see US Installed Over 14 GW Of Solar PV In 2016)
Both residential and utility-scale PV dropped YoY for the first time since 2010. The 2,227 MW of residential PV installed capacity in 2017 was a decline of 16%, compared to the previous year. Utility PV contributed 6,234 MW. In the non-residential community solar segment, 2,147 MW of installs led to a 28% YoY increase for the sector.
Corporate off-takers added 1 GW of additions in 2017. Over the next 5 years, this segment will more than double from 5% to 12% of annual capacity additions, says the report.
No growth in 2018
“Voluntary procurement” will be the primary driver for the utility PV segment in 2018, say the report authors. With 2.2 GW of installed capacity in 2017, this is likely to account for 33% of additions in 2018.
GTM Research expects the US market to stagnate, forecasting 10.6 GW again for 2018. Utility PV could again contribute the major chunk this year – 6.4 GW.
Lower 5-year forecast
Due to the impacts of the recently added “Section 201” import tariffs on modules and a corporate tax reform on the solar sector, GTM Research has reduced its total US PV forecasts by 13% from 2018 to 2022. The researchers expect total installed US PV capacity to more than double over the next 5 years, and annual additions of over 15 GW by 2023.
“With 2018 being relatively insulated from the impact of tariffs due to developers’ access to tariff-free module supply, 2019 and 2020 will be most sensitive to module tariffs, seeing a 20% and 17% decrease, respectively, over our Q4 2017 forecast,” says GTM Research’s report. The company warns that developers may decide to push their project completion dates of 2019 and 2020 to 2020, 2021 or later to leverage the tariff step down, leading to a “depression” of expected capacity additions.
Solar contributed 30% of all new electric generating capacity brought online last year, second to natural gas, GTM says.
The full report is available for purchase on the GTM Research website, starting from $4,000.