2016 was US solar’s biggest year to date with record-breaking 95% growth

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on email
Source: SolarCity

In 2016, the US solar market nearly doubled its annual record, installing 14,626MW of solar PV. This represents a whopping 95% growth increase over 2015’s cumulative 7,493MW, according to latest figures from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

Last year was a record-breaking year for US solar on many counts; as it ranked as the number one source of new electric generation capacity additions on an annual basis for the first time ever in 2016. Solar accounted for 39% of new capacity additions across all fuels sources.

“What these numbers tell you is that the solar industry is a force to be reckoned with,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO. “Solar's economically-winning hand is generating strong growth across all market segments nationwide, leading to more than 260,000 Americans now employed in solar.”

Figure: Share of Capacity Additions by Generation Source. Source: GTM Research / SEIA U.S. Solar Market Insight Report

The utility-scale segment was spurred dramatically this year by a pipeline of projects due to the extension of the ITC. This segment installed the most capacity and also had the highest growth rate up 145% from 2015.

“In a banner year for US solar, a record 22 states each added more than 100MW,” said Cory Honeyman, GTM Research's associate director of US solar research and lead report author. “While US solar grew across all segments, what stands out is the double digit gigawatt boom in utility-scale solar, primarily due to solar's cost competitiveness with natural gas alternatives.”

Community solar really proved itself as a force to be reckoned with; adding a record total of more than 200MW, led by Minnesota and Massachusetts. This was a significant driver for growth in the commercial segment, as was rate design and net metering policies that fuelled project development across a number of states, most notably California.

Furthermore, this segment surpassed the residential segment in solar growth for the first time since 2011. The residential sector did experience a slow-down, levelling out since its explosive growth in earlier years. In 2016 it still installed 2,583MW. While growth in California’s residential market has begun to level out, strong growth in markets like Maryland, New Jersey and a handful of emerging states where solar has achieved grid parity, helped the residential segment to grow 19% year-over-year, the report details.

On the back of an incredible 2016 that saw 1.3 million solar PV installations and a cumulative capacity of more than 40GW, 2017 is set to be an explosive year for US solar also.

Figure: U.S. Solar PV Installations, 2010 - 2016. Source: GTM Research / SEIA U.S. Solar Market Insight Report

Read Next

May 7, 2021
US solar installer SunPower expects deployment to surge in the coming quarters as tailwinds and refreshed business strategy combine, despite installs within its core residential and light commercial (RLC) segment dropping in Q1 2021.
May 6, 2021
There needs to be a fourfold increase in the number of workers employed in the US solar industry for the country to achieve President Biden’s ambition of creating a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035, a new report suggests.
PV Tech Premium
April 30, 2021
Elon Musk pitched a new vision for Tesla’s home solar-storage product this week, labelling it a “profound” alternative to the status quo. Liam Stoker analyses Tesla’s newly-described offering, the integration of Tesla’s solar and storage into a single product and explores benefits that may have been overlooked.
April 29, 2021
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has unveiled a new tool to make it easier for solar developers to trace where their modules and technologies are made and ensure an ethical supply chain.
April 16, 2021
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has unveiled a new environmental and social justice platform to improve access to employment within the renewables sector, and to low-cost clean energy across the US.
April 14, 2021
Meyer Burger is on track to start shipments of its first heterojunction (HJ) solar modules made in Germany to distributors in July.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Solar Media Events
May 11, 2021
Upcoming Webinars
May 26, 2021
Session 1 - 7:00 AM (BST) | Session 2 - 5:00 PM (BST)
Solar Media Events
June 15, 2021
Solar Media Events
July 6, 2021