Greentech Media (GTM) and SEIA’s 2016 Q2 SMI report makes it clear that the solar industry’s upward trajectory is no longer shadowed by other forms of electric generation. In fact, solar companies added more capacity in the first quarter of 2016 than was added by the natural gas, coal, nuclear, and wind industries combined.
The 1,665 megawatts of solar PV installed in Q1 account for a stunning 64 percent of all new electric generating capacity. On top of that, the 14.5 gigawatts (GW) of capacity projected to be added in the U.S. this year would top the previous record of 7.5 GW set in 2015 by 94 percent.
The first quarter’s capacity addition makes it the best non-quarter 4 ever for the industry. The 4th quarter is an historically strong quarter for solar capacity additions, so these results are significant. As of the end of Q1, the cumulative number of U.S. solar installations is now over 1 million.
These numbers are impressive and exciting for the industry, and here is what else we saw from last quarter:
- 2016 Q1 marks the 10th consecutive quarter in which more than a gigawatt of photovoltaics (PV) was installed.
- The operating solar PV installations represent 27.5 cumulative gigawatts of capacity.
- U.S. solar is expected to account for more than 6 percent of operating electric generating capacity by 2021, compared to just 0.3 percent entering the current decade.
This report supports the longer term forecasts that SEIA has developed along with GTM, which shows that the industry will nearly quadruple by 2021. In that time, employment will double, the solar industry will generate $132 billion in investment, and the environment will benefit thanks to the replacement of fossil fuels by clean and affordable solar energy.