New Report: America’s Solar Energy Margin Surging

Solar energy is on the upsurge, representing 40 percent of all new electric generating capacity brought on-line in the first half of 2015, according to a new report today from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

The Q2 2015 edition of the U.S. Solar Market Insight Report revealed the U.S. solar industry installed 1,393 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaics (PV) during the second quarter of 2015, bringing total solar capacity nationwide to 22.7 gigawatts (GW).

We now have enough solar in the U.S. to power 4.6 million homes and the momentum for solar is just beginning. Because of solar’s cost competitiveness, the demand for solar energy is now higher than ever.

According to the report, 729 MW of utility-scale solar PV —the lion’s share of new solar capacity— came on-line. Homeowners also spurred the residential market to set a quarterly record with 473 MW of solar PV.

For perspective on the uptick of homeowners adopting solar, a total of 10 states installed more than 10 MW of residential solar during the quarter. Only four states installed that much of residential solar during the same time in 2013.

Thanks to the solar investment tax credit (ITC), which was passed in 2006, prices for utility-scale solar have fallen 64 percent since 2010, while the average price of a residential PV installation is now 48 percent lower than 2010.

In fact, since the ITC was enacted, more than 22 GW of solar capacity have come on-line. That’s 97 percent of all solar capacity ever installed.

More solar will be installed in one week in 2015 than was installed in all of 2006, and that has translated into the creation of more than 150,000 new solar jobs over that time period.

More than ever, this report shows how crucial it is for America to maintain smart, effective, forward-looking public policies, like the ITC.

An additional 16.6 GW of utility-scale solar is in the development pipeline— 40 percent of which has been procured based purely on cost competiveness with fossil fuels.

With the ITC scheduled to drop at the end of 2016, that progress is threatened.

As an industry, we’re strongly urging lawmakers to support extending the ITC to ensure that solar remains one of America’s fastest-growing energy sources for years to come.

America deserves a level playing field among energy producers so that we can continue diversifying our power sources, offering more consumer choices and boosting the national economy.

The U.S. installed 2.7 GW of PV in the first six months of 2015. With significant growth expected in the second half of the year, the U.S. is on pace for a record-breaking 7.7 GW year.

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Rhone Resch is the President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the national trade association for the solar energy industry representing over 1,000 companies that manufacture, develop and install solar systems of all sizes and technologies. At SEIA, Rhone is responsible for leading the growth of the industry by expanding markets, removing market barriers, strengthening R&D and educating the public. SEIA’s recent legislative successes include the 8-year extension and expansion of the investment tax credits for solar, creation of the Treasury grant program and the section 48C manufacturing tax credit, and expansion of the loan guarantee program for renewable energy. In the regulatory arena, Rhone recently led the industry through an adverse customs ruling eventually overturning the tariff, saving the industry several hundred million dollars. He has over 18 years of experience in the public and private sector working in clean energy development and climate change issues. In addition to serving as the Vice President for the Natural Gas Supply Association, Rhone has also served as Program Manager at the EPA's Climate Protection Division during the Clinton administration. Rhone holds an MPA in Management from Syracuse University's Maxwell School, a Master of Environmental Engineering from SUNY Syracuse, and a B.A. from the University of Michigan. He lives with his wife Lisa and two children in a solar-powered home in Washington, D.C.

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