Originally published on CleanTechnica
by Joshua S Hill
The United States solar market had its biggest year to date in 2016, growing a phenomenal 95%, installing a fantastic 14.5 gigawatts of new solar capacity, according to new statistics released today.
The latest US Solar Market Insight report from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) was published today, revealing that 2016 blew all expectations away. 2015 itself had been a record-breaking year, with the US solar market installing 7.5 gigawatts (GW) of new solar capacity. But 2016 almost doubled that total, growing 95% in one year to install a total of 14,625 megawatts (MW), and becoming the leading source of new electric generating capacity installed through the year, with 39% of new capacity across all fields.
“What these numbers tell you is that the solar industry is a force to be reckoned with,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO. “Solar’s economically-winning hand is generating strong growth across all market segments nationwide, leading to more than 260,000 Americans now employed in solar.”
In fact, it was a great year for US renewables, with solar accounting for 39% of all new electric generating capacity during the year, and wind accounting for 26%.
“In a banner year for US solar, a record 22 states each added more than 100 megawatts,” added Cory Honeyman, GTM Research’s associate director of US solar research. “While U.S. solar grew across all segments, what stands out is the double digit gigawatt boom in utility-scale solar, primarily due to solar’s cost competitiveness with natural gas alternatives.”
Utility-scale solar led the way in 2016, while non-residential exceeded expectations, thanks to two major segments — community solar recorded a record of more than 200 MW, while rate design and net energy metering “fueled a rush in project development and installation growth across a number of major state markets, most notably in California.”
Overall this should come as no surprise, given just how impressive the third quarter was for US solar. The SEIA published figures back in December which showed that not only did the third quarter see a total of 4.1 GW installed, but that the fourth quarter was expected to be even higher. At the time, GTM Research predicted that 4.8 GW would be brought online in the fourth quarter.