The U.S. solar power industry is going strong.
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the photovoltaic energy market has seen a compound annual growth rate of almost 60 percent in the last decade. And in early 2016, our country reached the milestone of over 1 million photovoltaic installations.
Demand for solar energy is increasing, as lower prices have made it economically competitive with conventional energy sources. The country is finally beginning to rely less on fossil fuels for electricity.
Solar Electric Generating Capacity Beat Natural Gas for the First Time in 2015
Photovoltaic energy installations have accounted for a large share of the country’s new electric generating capacity additions for the last few years.
In 2013, for example, an impressive 27 percent of additions were solar. In 2014, that number jumped to 32 percent. Yet natural gas still had the edge, with new additions at 47 percent and 41 percent, respectively.
Last year, however, that trend shifted.
In 2015, natural gas accounted for 29 percent of electric capacity additions. Solar power systems exceeded that amount, with 29.4 percent. These figures are momentous, as this characterizes a fundamental shift in the electricity market.
Expected Solar Power Growth in 2016
In 2015, the amount of solar capacity installed was a record-breaking 7.3 gigawatts (GW). Industry analysts from SEIA predict that 2016 will shatter this record, with 14.5 GW of solar capacity to be installed by the end of the year.
This demonstrates a growth rate of 94 percent over 2015!
Utility scale photovoltaic installations will make up the lion’s share of these additions — 74 percent. But the residential and commercial markets also are expected to experience strong growth this year.
Solar Power vs. Other Energy Sources: Which Will Come Out on Top in 2016?
SEIA data shows that in the first quarter of 2016, the solar power industry added more new electric generating capacity than the combined totals of natural gas, coal and nuclear energy. In fact, solar accounted for 64 percent of all new U.S. electric installations brought online.
The U.S Energy Information Administration (EIA) has a listing of new utility-scale electric generating additions scheduled for 2016. And according to their data, photovoltaic installations lead the pack at 9.5 GW. Natural gas falls in second at 8 GW, and wind is in third at 6.8 GW in new capacity. Keep in mind, too, that these totals do not include rooftop solar power systems.
And in 2015, that accounted for nearly 2 GW of photovoltaic capacity.
Intermountain Wind & Solar is always eager to share the latest news and industry information with our clients, especially when it reflects such promising trends in the solar energy market.
As the leading provider of residential and commercial solar power in the Intermountain West, we have the purchasing power and resources to ensure that you can take advantage of these trends yourself. Contact us today for more information about putting solar power to work for you.