BLOG: Mid-Year Check In: How is Solar Doing?
By Richard Payne, Managing Director
We are halfway through 2019 and the solar market in the United States is already outperforming 2018. The industry has been trending upward for more than a decade, and as of mid-2019, two million solar PV installations have been built across the U.S. This achievement has boosted the growing renewable energy market that is taking over the U.S. Solar installations are now on the way to reach three million by 2021, a report by SEIA states. For the first time ever, the U.S. received more power from renewable energy than coal.
In the first quarter 2019, the U.S. installed 2.7 gigawatts (GW) and reached 67 GW of total installed capacity, enough to power 12.7 million average American homes, according to the SEIA U.S. Solar Market Insight Report, making it the largest first quarter in solar market history.
Solar markets in Florida, Texas, and North Carolina are exceeding expectations for 2019. What’s more, solar’s growth is increasing even in less traditional solar states, such as North Dakota, West Virginia, Maine, and Oklahoma. With a 25 percent growth compared to 2018, and 13 GW of installations planned for this year, the future of solar is more radiant. In fact, 2019 is forecasted to become the second largest year for the solar industry.
This year is becoming a strong one for utility-scale solar installations with an expected growth of 46 percent over last year. There are 4.7 GW of large scale utility projects currently under construction. Residential or rooftop solar saw a boost in its market as well, with 603 MW of residential solar installed in the U.S. within the first three months of the year. This is the third quarter in a row that residential solar had more than 600 MW installed. According to the Charlotte Business Journal, rooftop solar in North Carolina, like utility-scale solar, is becoming a nation-wide leader given the available rebate programs. With all this momentum, solar numbers over the next five years are expected to double.
Over the next several years, solar will aggressively compete with wind in the central states where wind has been dominating the renewable energy market. Wood Mackenzie analysts project utility solar will be cheaper than wind by mid-2020. The PTC, the wind production tax credit, is phasing out to zero; whereas, the solar investment tax credit (ITC) will phase out slowly over the next few years and eventually settle at 10 percent.
In the first half of 2019, U.S. solar market numbers stunned analysts, experts, and energy competitors. The progression of the solar industry is a fragment of the true energy potential solar has for the increasing energy demands. A nation powered by renewable energy is closer than we think.