The US reached a monumental 1 Million Solar Installations just two months ago. The monumental achievement illustrates how far the solar industry has come, as well as where it is going in the coming years.
Solar Energy in the U.S.
Dan Whitten, Vice President of Communications at the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) states, “It took us forty years to get to 1 million installations, and it will take us only two years to get to two million”. This landmark accomplishment marks the beginning of a new era for the solar industry, as it will be remembered as the time when solar started to accelerate at lightening speed.
According to GreenTech Media, The US solar market hit a total capacity of 27 gigawatts at the end of 2015. That represents just 1 percent of the current U.S. electricity mix, but it could triple 3 percent by 2020. This year alone, the U.S. solar market is projected to grow 119 percent, which represents an additional 16 gigawatts of new installed capacity and more than double the record breaking 7.3 gigawatts added in 2015.
A recent study by the ICF International found that as solar generation increases and demand for conventionally generated energy decreases, U.S. generators stand to lose as much as $2 billion in revenue by 2019. Responding to the growing number of solar homes, systems operators around the country are now working on plans to turn distributed solar into a grid asset.
Solar Energy Installation Moving Forward
GreenTech Media reports that the solar industry benefited greatly from the advantageous policies such as state renewable energy mandates and the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) which will continue to drive growth over the next five years. Simultaneously, advancements in technology will continue to reduce costs, making solar more competitive. Additionally, if natural-gas price rise from historic lows, the relative financial outlook for solar will become even more attractive.
Cory Honeyman, Associate Director of Solar for GTM Research, extrapolates on this point, stating the first million solar installations came from a lot of state markets benefiting from steep cost reductions as well as incentive programs like renewable portfolio standards and rooftop solar programs. Looking at what defines the next 1 million solar installs, Honeymoon asserts that the geographical landscape will be much more diverse resulting in a growing number of states seeing solar come on-line purely based on how cost-competitive it is.
Moving forward, the SEIA is continuing to raise awareness and capitalize on solar’s growing momentum with the #MillionSolarStrong campaign. Whitten explains, “We want to open this conversation and let people know that we are now part of the energy mainstream. Solar energy is central to any discussion about America’s energy future”. The campaign includes a social media ‘crowdspeaking’ platform as well as a flagship event held in Washington D.C. to celebrate all the solar industry’s achievements to date.