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U.S. Solar Market Sets New Record, Installing 7.3 GW of Solar PV in 2015

Friday, Feb 19 2016

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Press Release

BOSTON, MASS. and WASHINGTON, D.C. - In yet another record-breaking year, the solar industry in the United States installed 7,286 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaics (PV) in 2015. GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) announced the historic figures today ahead of the March 9 release of the U.S. Solar Market Insight report

FIGURE: U.S. Solar PV Installations, 2000-2015

Source: GTM Research / SEIA U.S. Solar Market Insight Report

For the first time ever, solar beat out natural gas capacity additions, with solar supplying 29.5 percent of all new electric generating capacity in the U.S. in 2015.

Led by California, North Carolina, Nevada, Massachusetts and New York, the U.S. solar market experienced a year-over-year growth rate of 17 percent. Geographically, the market continues to diversify with 13 states installing more than 100 MW each in 2015. States that made major solar strides include Utah, which jumped in ranking from 23rd to 7th place, and Georgia which moved from 16th to 8th in the nation.

FIGURE: Ranking States by Annual PV Installations

Source: GTM Research / SEIA U.S. Solar Market Insight Report

The residential solar market grew 66 percent year-over-year and, for the first time in history, eclipsed two gigawatts (GW). The residential solar segment now represents 29 percent of the entire U.S. solar market – its largest share since 2009.

For the fourth year in a row, the non-residential market broke the 1 GW mark, but remained roughly flat year-over-year.

The utility-scale sector, the mainstay of the U.S. solar market, grew six percent year-over-year and represented more than half of all solar PV installed in 2015.

Cumulative U.S. solar PV installations have now topped 25 GW, up from just 2 GW in 2010. 

FIGURE: Share of U.S. PV Installations by Segment, 2000-2015

Source: GTM Research / SEIA U.S. Solar Market Insight Report

“Without a doubt, 2015 was a monumental year for the U.S. solar industry, and perhaps what’s most amazing is that we’re only getting started,” said SEIA president and CEO Rhone Resch. “Over the next few years, we’re going to see solar continue to reach unprecedented heights as our nation makes a shift toward a carbon-free source of energy that also serves as an economic and job-creating engine.”

“The U.S. solar market remains concentrated in key states, with the top ten states accounting for 87 percent of installed capacity in 2015,” said Shayle Kann, Senior Vice President of GTM Research. “But growth has been widespread, and 24 of the 35 states that we track individually saw market growth in 2015.”

On March 9, GTM Research and SEIA will release the complete U.S. Solar Market Insight 2015 Year-in-Review with detailed market analysis and updated forecasts.

Key Findings:

  • The U.S. installed 7,286 MWdc of solar photovoltaics (PV) in 2015, the largest total ever and 17% above 2014
  • The 7.3 GW installed in 2015 is 8.6 times the capacity installed five years earlier in 2010
  • Residential was once again the fastest growing sector, installing over 2 GWdc for the first time and growing 66% over 2014
  • Utility solar PV also had a record year with over 4 GW installed, up 6% over 2014
  • 110 MWac of concentrating solar power (CSP) capacity came online in late 2015 when SolarReserve’s Crescent Dunes project began sending electricity to the grid
  • Non-residential solar was essentially flat for the third year in a row, installing just over 1 GWdc
  • Cumulative solar PV installations reached over 25 GWdc by the end of the year, up from just 2 GW at the end of 2010

For more information, visit http://www.seia.org/smi

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About U.S. Solar Market Insight:

The U.S. Solar Market Insight report is the most detailed and timely research available on the continuing growth and opportunity in the U.S. The report includes deep analysis of solar markets, technologies and pricing, identifying the key metrics that will help solar decision-makers navigate the market's current and forecasted trajectory. For more information, visit www.seia.org/smi

About SEIA®:

Celebrating its 42nd anniversary in 2016, the Solar Energy Industries Association® is the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry. Through advocacy and education, SEIA® is building a strong solar industry to power America. As the voice of the industry, SEIA works with its 1,000 member companies to champion the use of clean, affordable solar in America by expanding markets, removing market barriers, strengthening the industry and educating the public on the benefits of solar energy. Visit SEIA online at www.seia.org.

About GTM Research:

GTM Research, a division of Greentech Media, provides critical and timely market analysis in the form of research reports, data services, advisory services and strategic consulting. GTM Research's analysis also underpins Greentech Media's webinars and live events. Our coverage spans the green energy industry including solar power, grid modernization, energy storage, energy efficiency and wind power sectors.

Media Contacts:

Alex Hobson, SEIA Press Officer & Communications Manager, ahobson@seia.org (202) 556-2886

Mike Munsell, GTM Research, Marketing Manager, munsell@gtmresearch.com (617) 500-7764

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