According to a new Gallup Poll, 79 percent of Americans think we should put more emphasis on solar power as a source of domestic energy. When you include those who think we should continue the current emphasis, that’s 91 percent of Americans who back solar as the number one priority for domestic power.
Given that level of enthusiasm, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the residential solar market has seen impressive growth in recent years. In the summer of 2015, GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) released the latest edition of the U.S. Solar Market Insight Report, which found that the first quarter of the year was the best ever for residential solar system installations.
Solar represented 51 percent of all new electric generating capacity brought on-line in the first quarter of 2015, which outpaced natural gas. For six consecutive quarters, there have been more than a gigawatt (GW) of PV installations in the U.S., with 1,306 megawatts (MW) installed in Q1 of this year.
Residential solar saw the greatest gains, growing 76 percent over the first quarter of 2014, an 11 percent increase over the previous quarter.
However, the largest share of the market is the utility segment, which installed 644 MW, or 49 percent of new PV capacity in Q1 2015. While it was the smallest quarter for the utility segment since 2013, installations have been above 500 MW for eight consecutive quarters.
“Q1 2015 provided a clear glimpse into the role that residential sector will play as a primary driver of not only solar market growth, but the overall electricity generation mix,” said Shayle Kann, senior vice president at GTM Research. “We expect more than 3 million residential solar installations over the next five years, marked by a broader trend toward customer engagement in energy usage, generation and management.”
To emphasize how explosive the growth is in solar installations, just consider this statistic: two-thirds of all worldwide solar PV capacity has been installed from January 2011 to 2013. It gets better. That number is expected to double by the end of this year, and then again in another four years.
The future of solar is bright!