WASHINGTON — More than half a million U.S. homes and businesses are generating solar energy, according to a new market report released in early September.
The U.S. installed 1,133 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaics (PV) in the second quarter of 2014, according to the Q2 2014 U.S. Solar Market Insight Report published by Boston-based GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), based in Washington. The amount of MW is up 21 percent over 2013’s second quarter, making it the fourth-largest quarter for solar installations in the history of the market.
The residential and commercial segments accounted for nearly half of all solar PV installations in the quarter, according to the report. All told, PV and concentrating solar power (CSP) operating capacity has eclipsed 15.9 gigawatts (GW), which is enough to power more than 3.2 million homes.
“Solar continues to soar, providing more and more homes, businesses, schools and government entities across the United States with clean, reliable and affordable electricity,” said SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch in a statement. “Today, the solar industry employs 143,000 Americans and pumps nearly $15 billion a year into our economy. This remarkable growth is due, in large part, to smart and effective public policies, such as the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), net energy metering (NEM) and renewable portfolio standards (RPS). By any measurement, these policies are paying huge dividends for both the U.S. economy and our environment – and should be maintained, if not expanded, given their tremendous success, as well as their importance to America’s future.”
The growth of solar energy is being driven mostly by the utility PV segment, which accounted for 55 percent of solar installations in the second quarter of this year. This segment has made up more than half of national PV installations for the fifth straight quarter, the report found. In just two years, this segment has quadrupled its cumulative size, growing from 1,784 MW in the first half of 2012 to 7,308 MW.
The SEIA predicts that PV installations will reach 6.5 GW in 2014, up 36 percent over 2013 and more than three times the market size just three years ago.
“Solar continues to be a primary source of new electric generation capacity in the U.S,” said Shayle Kann, senior vice president at GTM Research, in a statement. “With new sources of capital being unlocked, design and engineering innovations reducing system prices, and sales channels rapidly diversifying, the solar market is quickly gaining steam to drive significant growth for the next few years.”