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Solar Industry Data

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 more than 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 260,000 Americans work in solar - more than double the number in 2012 - at more than 9,000 companies in every U.S. state. By 2021, that number is expected to increase to more than 360,000 workers

Growth in Solar is led by Falling Prices

The cost to install solar has dropped by more than 60% over the last 10 years, leading the industry to expand into new markets and deploy thousands of systems nationwide.

U.S. Solar Market Through 2016: Key Takeaways

  • 14.8 GW installed in 2016
    • 97% growth in Photovoltaic (PV) market over 2015
    • Largest year on record, surpassing 2015; Q4 2016 largest quarter on record
  • Over 42 GW of total solar capacity now installed
    • CAGR of 59% since 2010
    • Generates enough electricity to power 8.3 million homes
  • Solar top source of new electric generating capacity installed in 2016
    • Represented 39% of all new electric capacity added to U.S. grid
    • First time solar ranks first; Natural Gas represented 29% and Wind 26%
  • Solar prices dropped 29% from Q4 2015 to Q4 2016
    • Price drop is seen across all market segments, led by reduced hardware costs
    • Prices have dropped 67% since 2011
    • Utility-scale PPAs now signed for $0.03 - $0.05/kWh
  • In 2016, a new solar installation was completed every 84 seconds
    • Now 1.3 million installations in the U.S.

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 traditionally dominated the U.S. solar market - with 35% market share in 2016 - other markets are continuing to expand, including Massachusetts, Utah, New York and Texas, where much of the future growth will take place.

Continued Growth Across All Market Segments

While residential solar has been the fastest growing segment in recent years, growth has slowed in 2016 as installers in mature markets continue to refine sales techniques. The commercial market has had success with large players like Walmart, Apple and Target, but community solar and off-site procurement will drive growth in the near term.  The utility-scale segment continues to be the backbone of the U.S. solar industry, representing 72% of installed solar capacity in 2016.

Utility-Scale Solar Pipeline

Utility-scale solar has represented nearly two thirds of the market over the past few years, and this trend will likely continue through 2017 with a contracted pipeline of projects totaling almost 18 gigawatts.

U.S. Solar PV Growth Forecast

While 2017 installations are expected drop slightly from a record-shattering 2016, the 13 GW expected still almost doubles 2015, the second largest year on record. After rapidly completing a record buildout in 2016 and 2017, developers will be looking to procure new projects with completion targets moving into the next decade. By 2021 there will be over 100 GW of solar installed in the U.S., with annual totals approaching 18 GW. 

Solar Helps Fortune 500 Companies Save Money

Data from SEIA's annual Solar Means Business report show that major U.S. corporations, including Target, Walmart and Apple are going solar at an incredible rate. The top 25 corporate solar users in America have installed nearly 1,100 MW of capacity at 2,000 different facilities across the country as of October 2016.

Other key takeaways:

  • The amount of solar installed at U.S. corporations and businesses is enough to offset 1.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year
  • Commercial prices have fallen by 58% since 2012 and by 16% in the last year


Click on the image above to view the map full screen. Zoom in to view the projects via satellite imagery.

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