BOSTON and WASHINGTON — GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) have released their U.S. Solar Market Insight 2014 Year in Review report, which provides installation data, forecasting, and policy analysis for the United States solar market. According to the report, newly installed solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity for 2014 reached a record 6,201 megawatts (MW), growing 30 percent over 2013’s total. An additional 767 MW of concentrating solar power (CSP) came on-line in the same period.
Solar accounted for 32 percent of the country’s new generating capacity in 2014, surpassing both wind energy and coal for the second year in a row. Only natural gas had a greater share of new generating capacity.
In 2014, for the first time in history, each of the three major U.S. market segments — utility, commercial, and residential — installed more than a gigawatt (GW) of solar PV.
The U.S. utility segment broke the GW mark in 2011 and has since grown by nearly 1 GW annually. In 2014, 3.9 GW of utility-scale PV projects came on-line with another 14 GW of projects currently under contract.
The commercial segment in the U.S. also first installed more than 1 GW in 2011, but has not seen the same success as the utility segment. In 2014, the commercial segment installed just over 1 GW, down 6 percent from 2013. The report notes, “Many factors have contributed to this trend, ranging from tight economics to difficulty financing small commercial installations.” But GTM Research expects 2015 to be a bounce-back year for the commercial segment, highlighted by a resurgence in California.
The U.S. residential segment’s 1.2 GW in 2014 marks its first time surpassing 1 GW. Residential continues to be the fastest-growing market segment in the U.S., with 2014 marking three consecutive years of greater than 50 percent annual growth.
“Without question, the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) has helped to fuel our industry’s remarkable growth. Today the U.S. solar industry has more employees than tech giants Google, Apple, Facebook, and Twitter combined,” said Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO. “Since the ITC was passed in 2006, more than 150,000 solar jobs have been created in America, and $66 billion has been invested in solar installations nationwide. We now have 20 gigawatts (GW) of installed solar capacity — enough to power 4 million U.S. homes — and we’re helping to reduce harmful carbon emissions by 20 million metric tons a year. By any measurement, the ITC has been a huge success for both our economy and environment.”
GTM Research forecasts the U.S. solar PV market to grow 31 percent in 2015. The utility segment is expected to account for 59 percent of the forecasted 8.1 GW of PV.
“Solar PV was a $13.4 billion market in the U.S. in 2014, up from just $3 billion in 2009,” said Shayle Kann, senior vice president at GTM Research. “And this growth should continue throughout 2015 thanks to falling solar costs, business model innovation, an attractive political and regulatory environment, and increased availability of low-cost capital.”
Additional findings of the report include:
• By the end of 2014, 20 states eclipsed the 100 MW mark for cumulative operating solar PV installations, and California alone is home to 8.7 GW.
• For the first time ever, more than half a gigawatt of residential solar installations came on-line without any state incentive in 2014.
For more information, visit www.seia.org.
Publication date: 3/9/2015