• GTM/SEIA Report says 16 GW PV will be installed in US in 2016
  • Last year, residential PV was the fastest growing sector in US solar, installing over 2 GW for the first time
  • Utility PV had a record year with over 4 GW installations coming online in 2015; 20 GW still under development
  • States that crossed 1 GW of cumulative solar capacity were Arizona, California, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Massachusetts
  • 2017 will see solar growth coming down to 10 GW, but it will pick up again from 2018 onwards

US solar will grow 119% YoY, adding 16 GW in 2016 – up from 7.3 GW installed in 2015. This stupendous growth, says GTM Research in its report US Solar Market Insight 2015 Year in Review, will mostly come from utility scale segment. The latter will represent 74% of the installations for the year. Published in collaboration with the US Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the report says residential PV was the fastest growing sector in the US solar, installing over 2 GW for the first time, representing a growth of 66% over 2014. Utility PV had a record year too with over 4 GW installed, and around 20 GW still in development. This is up by 6% from 2014. Around 1,011 MW of non-residential PV came online in 2015, down by 5% from 2014.

According to the report, 13 states installed over 100 MW of solar each in 2015, up from nine in 2014. The Top 10 states accounted for 87% of all PV installations, while top 20 made up 96%. Arizona, California, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Massachusetts surpassed 1 GW in cumulative solar capacity.

2016 Trends

Three key trends will drive US solar demand through the year in 2016, the report says:

  • Rollout of new community solar programs
  • New utility led efforts to enable corporate procurement of offsite solar, and
  • Ongoing debate over the value of rooftop solar

Community solar projects in Colorado, Massachusetts and Minnesota will alone add over 100 MW. There is a triple-digit MW pipeline of projects in this category.

“In 2016, the rooftop solar economic outlook will depend not only on favorable outcomes to net energy metering debates, but also on customer-wide and solar-specific rate structure reforms that can impact savings from solar,” GTM Research Senior Analyst Cory Honeyman said.

The country will soon approach its 1 millionth solar installation. Recently, US Energy Information Administration (EIA) announced that it expects utility scale to add 9.5 GW in 2016 (see article). SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch, said, “Because of the strong demand for solar energy nationwide, and smart public policies like the ITC and NEM (Net Metering), hundreds of thousands of well-paying solar jobs will be added in the next few years benefiting both America’s economy and the environment.”

Demand drop in 2017
In 2017, the growth will slow down to just 10 GW, GTM Research’s Honeyman added, “As the double-digit gigawatt utility PV pipeline is built out in 2016, utility solar is expected to experience a reset in 2017. But between 2018 and 2020, the extension of the ITC will reboot market growth for utility PV and support continued growth in distributed solar as a growing number of states reach grid parity.”

By 2021, GTM Research expects the US solar market to surpass 100 GW on a cumulative basis, with an annual installed rate of 20 GW or more.