US commercial solar capacity doubles in last 2.5 years, accounts for 14% of solar market

Tech giants Meta, Amazon and Apple have installed more than a fourth of the commercial capacity in the US with 5.6GW of off-site and on-site solar. Image: Amazon.

Over the last two and a half years, commercial solar has doubled its installed capacity in the US, from 9.8GW at the end of 2019 to 19GW of solar PV until June 2022.

That is according to the latest edition of the Solar Means Business report, published by trade body the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), which found that since the end of 2019, tech and retail giants have led the increase in commercial solar installation, which currently accounts for 14% of all installed solar capacity in the US.

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The recent growth was due to an accelerated procurement of off-site solar, which currently represents more than half (55%) of all commercial solar use. Almost 70% of all off-site corporate solar in the US was brought online in the last 2.5 years.

Commercial solar is expected to double its installed capacity in the next three years with almost 27GW of off-site capacity scheduled to be operational by 2025.

Moreover, the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is expected to significantly impact utility-scale buildout, as WoodMackenzie forecasted earlier this year, with an increase of on-site commercial solar deployment by 24% in the next five years, while utility-scale – which includes off-site corporate projects – is forecasted to increase 51% compared to a non-IRA scenario.

Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of SEIA, said: “Solar Means Business highlights the incredible flexibility of solar, whether it’s installed on a warehouse roof, on a carport or at an off-site facility, showing the various ways that companies are meeting their needs with clean, affordable energy.”

Tech company Meta, formerly Facebook, has the largest corporate solar portfolio with 3.6GW, more than treble the following company on the list, Amazon, with 1.1GW of solar capacity. Apple closes the podium with 987MW of installed capacity as of end of June 2022.

Since the end of 2019, when it had 177MW of capacity, Meta has grown its offtake solar capacity by 380% and now represents 3% of the whole solar capacity installed in the US, according to SEIA’s data.

The tech giant has also been active in corporate power purchase agreements (PPAs) in Texas and Utah in the past months with 156MW and 104MW solar PV PPAs signed, respectively.

Moreover, retail giant Target remains the commercial company with the most on-site commercial solar capacity for the fifth time in a row, while Walmart’s mix of on-site and off-site has kept the retail company in the top five for the past decade and currently has 689MW of solar capacity installed.

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