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Texas’ Solar Market Surges in Spring With Best Quarter in History

Adds 24% of its historic capacity in Q2, a 17-fold jump from first quarter; Pending trade case threatens thousands of jobs and strong growth expected in state over next five years

Tuesday, Sep 12 2017

Press Release

BOSTON Mass. and WASHINGTON D.C. — Texas’ solar market soared this past spring, adding 24 percent of all the state’s cumulative capacity in a three-month span, according to GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association’s (SEIA) latest U.S. Solar Market Insight report.

The 380 megawatts (MW) installed in the second quarter is 17 times more capacity than the 22 MW that went online in the state in Q1. This helped Texas move up two more places to become the 7th biggest solar state. Over the past year, Texas has moved up three places in the overall state rankings. It was the 10th largest solar state at this time last year. 

“Texas has some of the biggest solar potential in the country,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO. “This past quarter shows it is living up to that potential, and its solar businesses now employ more people than almost any other state. Its future outlook is even brighter. We urge Washington not to interfere with the state’s rapid growth and put tens of thousands of Texans out of work.”

Texas now has 1,620 MW (1.6 gigawatts) of total solar capacity. Over the next five years, the industry forecasts that more than 5.3 gigawatts will be installed, making Texas’ projected growth second to only California.

However, the industry in both Texas and nationally could be decimated if two foreign-owned companies operating in the U.S. get trade relief they have requested from the federal government.

In a June report, GTM Research said trade relief in the form of a floor price, if approved, would cut national solar demand in half over the next five years. SEIA says the petition could cause the solar industry to shed 88,000 jobs in 2018. Of those jobs lost, 6,300 would be in Texas, more than half of its current solar workforce. Texas is home to 565 companies that together employ approximately 9,400 workers.

A coalition of conservative groups, SEIA and others in industry, along with nearly 70 members of Congress, have been vehement in their opposition to the trade relief being sought by Suniva.

Nationally, the solar industry had its best second quarter ever, continuing its years-long expansion. The industry installed 2,387 MW of solar photovoltaics (PV) in the U.S. This also topped Q1’s total and represents an 8 percent year-over-year gain, GTM Research and SEIA said.

The U.S. Solar Market Insight Report said all three U.S. solar market segments — commercial, residential and utility-scale — experienced quarter-over-quarter growth in Q2. The non-residential market grew a robust 31 percent year-over-year, with 437 MW installed.

The report forecast that the solar industry will add 12.4 GW of new capacity this year, down slightly from GTM Research’s previous forecast of 12.6 GW.

The solar industry is one of the fastest growing sectors of the U.S. economy. It contributed 1 out every 50 new jobs created last year — a total of 51,000 jobs.

The market is expected to triple over the next five years. However, the trade relief being considered by the U.S. International Trade Commission could radically affect the solar outlook and “would result in a substantial downside revision to our forecast for all three segments,” the analysis said.

Key Findings from the SMI Report

  • In Q2 2017, the U.S. market installed 2,387 MWdc of solar PV, an 8% increase year-over-year and the largest second quarter ever.
  • Through the first half of 2017, 22% of all new electric capacity brought online in the U.S. has come from solar, ranking second over that time period to natural gas.
  • Installed system prices remain low across all market segments, with fixed-tilt utility-scale systems remaining under the $1/watt barrier for the second consecutive quarter.
  • GTM Research forecasts that 12.4 GWdc of new PV installations will come on-line in 2017.
  • Total installed U.S. solar PV capacity is expected to nearly triple over the next five years. By 2022, 31 states will have more than 100 MW annual solar markets with 25 states being home to more than 1 GW of capacity and more than 16 GW of solar PV capacity will be installed annually.