Research - JUNE 12, 2017

Solar industry adds more than 2 GW of solar capacity in Q1 2017

by Jody Barhanovich

The U.S. installed 2,044 megawatts of solar PV in first quarter 2017 to reach 44.7 gigawatts of total installed capacity, according to the quarterly SEIA/GTM Research U.S. Solar Market Insight report. This is enough to power 8.7 million American homes.

In first quarter 2017, solar ranked as the number two source of new electric generating capacity additions brought on-line, totaling 30 percent. Solar growth in first quarter was driven by a fourth-straight quarter of more than 1 gigawatt growth in the utility-scale sector. In addition, first quarter 2017 saw more than half of capacity additions come from the utility PV segment, which added more than 1 gigawatt for the sixth consecutive quarter.

Despite accounting for its lowest share of the residential market at 35 percent, California is still the largest state market for residential PV, though contraction in the state was the primary driver behind the national residential market falling 17 percent over first quarter 2016.

Installed system prices continue to drop across all market segments, with fixed-tilt utility-scale systems dipping under the $1/watt barrier for the first time, according to the report.

The report projects that the U.S. solar industry will nearly triple over the next five years, surpassing 100 gigawatts nationwide. However, uncertainty looms over the long-term outlook for U.S. solar, due to a new trade dispute initiated by the domestic module and cell manufacturer Suniva, according to the report.

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