Solar Industry Growing at a Record Pace
Solar energy in the United States is booming. Along with our partners at GTM Research and The Solar Foundation, SEIA tracks trends and trajectories in the solar industry that demonstrate the diverse and sustained growth across the country.
Below you will find charts and factoids that summarize the state of solar in the U.S. SEIA Members have access to presentation slide decks that contain this data and much more. Not a SEIA Member? Join today!
Solar Growth and the ITC
The Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) has provided industry stability and growth since its initial passage in 2006. In the last decade, solar has experienced a compound annual growth rate of nearly 60%. To learn more about the ITC and its impact on the solar industry, visit our ITC Policy Page.
Solar as an Economic Engine
Nearly 209,000 Americans work in solar - more than double the number in 2010 - at more than 8,000 copmanies in every U.S. state. By 2020, that number will double to more than 420,000 workers.
Growth in Solar is led by Falling Prices
The cost to install solar has dropped by more than 70% over the last 10 years, leading the industry to expand into new markets and deploy thousands of systems nationwide.
Q1 2016 Solar Market Update: Key Takeaways
- 7.5 GW of solar installed in 2015
- 19% growth in photovoltaic (PV) market over 2014
- Compound annual growth rate of 58% since 2010
- Over 29 GW of total solar capacity installed
- Generates enough electricty to power 5.7 million homes
- Solar prices dropped 3% in 2015 from 2014
- Price drop accelerated in Q1 2016, down 12% year over year
- Prices have dropped over 70% since 2006
- Utility-scale PPAs now signed for $0.03 - $0.05/kWh
- Solar has reached 1% of roral generation
- Up from 0.1% just 5 years ago
- Expected to hit 3.5% by 2020
- In Q1 2016, U.S. hit 1 million solar installations
- Will hit 2 million installs in just 2 more years
Solar PV Price Breakdown
The biggest cost-decline opportunity in the solar industry exists in soft costs, including labor, supply chain and overhead considerations. The U.S. Department of Energy is leading the charge on reducing soft costs, and SEIA and The Solar Foundation are working with cities and counties to streamline permitting processes and reduce local barriers to going solar.
The U.S Solar Industry is a 50 State Market
While California has dominated the U.S. solar market - with 44% market share in 2015 - other markets will continue to expand, including Massachusetts, New York and Texas, where much of the future growth will take place.
Solar PV Growth: Residential and Commercial (Distribured Generation)
Residential solar has benefitted from decreasing costs, increased competition, improved consumer awareness, and most importantly an influx of new capital that has allowed companies to offer a variety of financing options. The commercial market has has success with large players like Walmart, Apple and Target, but challenges remain in providing competitive financing for smaller companies without credit ratings.
Solar PV Growth: Utility-Scale
Utility-scale solar has represented nearly two thirds of the market over the past few years, and this trend will likely continue to 2016 with an enormous pipeline of projects currently under construction.
U.S. Solar PV Growth: Forecast Q1 2016
We expect the U.S. solar industry to install 14.5 GW of capacity by the end of 2016, which is nearly double the amount installed in a record-breaking 2015. Through the end of this decade, there will be robust growth across all three market segments, eventually reaching a 20 GW annual solar market.
Solar Helps Fortune 500 Companies Save Money
Data from SEIA's annual Solar Means Business report show that major U.S. corporations, including Walmart, IKEA and Macy's, are going solar at an incredible rate. The top 25 corporate solar users in America have installed more than 907 MW of capacity at 1,686 different facilities across the country as of August 2015.
Other key takeaways:
- The amount of solar installed at U.S. corporations and businesses is enough to offset 890,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year
- The average price of a completed commercial PV project in has dropped by nearly 30% in the past 3 years alone
- There are now commercial solar installations in 38 states, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, with systems expanding this year to Arkansas, Kansas and Indiana
Solar Energy Powers K-12 Schools Around the Country
According to data from Brighter Future: A Study on Solar in U.S. Schools, a report published by the Solar Foundation with support from SEIA, there are nearly 4,000 K-12 schools in the United States with active solar systems, meaning more than 2.7 million American students attend solar schools. The report also found that thousands of other schools could save money by going solar.
Other key takeaways:
- 450 individual school districts could each save more than $1,000,000 over 30 years by installing a solar PV system
- Of the 125,000 schools in the country, between 40,000 and 72,000 can "go solar" cost-effectively
- The 3,727 PV systems at U.S. schools have a combined electric capacity of 490 MW, and generate roughly 642,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity every year
Curious if your school has solar or might be a good candidate for solar? Find your school on our interactive map below. Want your school to go solar? Email your administrator.