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U.S. solar market on track for record year

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Staff writer |
Solar panels
Green energy   1,665 megawatts (MW) of solar PV were installed

In the first quarter of 2016, 1,665 megawatts (MW) of solar PV were installed in the U.S. with the solar industry adding more new capacity during this period than coal, natural gas and nuclear combined.

According to GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association’s (SEIA) U.S. Solar Market Insight, Q2 2016, the 1,665 MW accounted for 64 percent of all new electric generating capacity brought on-line in the first quarter of the year.

This growth builds off the momentum of a record 2015, in which solar exceeded natural gas capacity additions on an annual basis for the first time ever.

Solar graphThe report also says that this year the solar industry will install an unprecedented 14.5 gigawatts (GW) of capacity, a 94 percent jump over the 7.5 GW in capacity installed in 2015. This growth cements solar energy’s role as a mainstay in America’s portfolio of electricity sources.

The first quarter of 2016 marks the 10th consecutive quarter in which more than a GW of PV was installed in the United States, and the 12th consecutive quarter in which 500 MW or more of utility-scale PV was installed.

In turn, there are now more than a million operating solar PV installations across the country, representing 27.5 cumulative GW of operating capacity.

Utility PV is expected to drive the majority of demand, accounting for nearly three-fourths of new capacity. More than 10 GWdc of utility PV is slated to come on-line this year.

At least another 4.5 GWdc of utility PV installations are expected to be nearly or fully finished with construction in Q4 2016 and official commercial operation expected in 2017.

The non-residential solar market experienced some much needed consistency this past quarter. The report notes that for the first time ever, the non-residential market experienced back-to-back quarters with installations of 300 MW or more.


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