The U.S. solar market saw a strong second quarter across all market segments, according to the latest edition of GTM Research and Solar Energy Industries Association’s (SEIA) U.S. Solar Market Insight report. The organizations report that 2.05 GW of solar PV was installed across the nation during the quarter, representing a 43% growth over the second quarter of 2015.
This includes more than 1 GW of utility-scale projects, and here the best is yet to come. GTM Research notes that 10 GW of utility-scale solar is currently under construction in the United States, and expects 7.8 GW of this to come online during the second half of the year. On the back of this strong utility-scale activity, the company is predicting that the nation will install 13.9 GW over the course of the year.
This is a slight downgrade from the 14.5 GW that GTM Research predicted in its Q1 report, released in June, which itself was a reduction on the company’s earlier forecast. It is still higher than Mercom Capital, whose latest prediction is that the United States will install 13.5 GW this year, and much higher than Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s (BNEF) relatively pessimistic 12 GW.
The differences in numbers betray deeper differences in how the market is characterized in these different forecasts. While BNEF and Mercom are both predicting that around 4 GW of utility-scale projects originally slated for the second half of 2016 will be pushed back into 2017, GTM Research describes an “unprecedented wave of growth” in the utility-scale segment.
Diminished expectations for the remainder of 2016 have been particularly noticeable at Sunpower, which slashed its full year forecast and is now predicting a loss based on delayed utility-scale projects.
Looking beyond utility-scale, the residential and commercial and industrial (C&I) segments were both strong in the second quarter of 2016. Residential installations grew 29% year-over-year, and while GTM Reports that California has experienced a slight slow-down the company says that other states including Utah and Texas have helped to make up the difference.
The “non-residential” segment, including C&I, non-profit, government and other installations, also grew 50% year-over-year, with California making up 50% of the installed capacity. C&I has been the most uneven segment in the U.S. market.
Overall solar PV made up 26% of new electricity generation capacity put online in the first half of 2016, as part of renewable energy dominating new installations. As a mark of ongoing progress, in May the United States his one million rooftop solar installations.
“While it took us 40 years to hit 1 million U.S. solar installations, we’re expected to hit 2 million within the next two years,” notes SEIA Interim President Tom Kimbis.