The United States solar industry shattered all records this past quarter, installing a massive 4.1 gigawatts (GW) at an average of 2 megawatts (MW) of solar PV installed per hour through the quarter.
Even more impressive is the forecast that says the 4th quarter will be even higher.
GTM Research in collaboration with the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) published their Q4 2016 U.S. Solar Market Insight report, which reported 4,143 MW of solar PV was installed in the United States during the 3rd quarter at a rate of 1 MW every 32 minutes — a pace which has only increased in the 4th quarter. Compared to previous quarters, that means the 3rd quarter increased solar installation by 99% over the 2nd quarter of 2016, and 191% over the 3rd quarter of 2015.
Even more impressively, over the first 9 months of the year, solar accounted for 39% of all new electric generating capacity brought online in the US, second only to natural gas.
Annual U.S. Solar PV Installations, Q1 2010-Q3 2016
“Coming off our largest quarter ever and with an extremely impressive pipeline ahead, it’s safe to say the state of the solar industry here in America is strong,” said Tom Kimbis, SEIA’s interim president. “The solar market now enjoys an economically winning hand that pays off both financially and environmentally, and American taxpayers have noticed. With a 90% favourability rating and 209,000+ jobs, the US solar industry has proven that when you combine smart policies with smart 21st century technology, consumers and businesses both benefit.”
The massive growth was primarily due to an “unprecedented rate of project completion” in the utility-scale solar PV segment, representing 77% of solar PV installed in the 3rd quarter. Further, GTM Research predicts that 4.8 GW of utility PV will be brought online in the coming 4th quarter.
“Driven by a large pipeline of utility PV projects initially procured under the assumption of a 2016 federal ITC expiration, the third quarter of 2016 represents the first phase of this massive wave of project completion — a trend that will continue well into the first half of 2017,” said Cory Honeyman, associate director of US solar at GTM Research.
The country’s non-residential segment posted its second-largest quarter ever, installing 375 MW in the quarter, growing 15% over the previous quarter and 37% year over year. Meanwhile, the residential solar segment continued to experience a slowdown, growing only 2% in the 3rd quarter, year over year, and actually falling 10% on the 2nd quarter.