The good news: The US added 13.3 GW of solar in 2019, beating wind and gas in new capacity

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The good news is that 2019 was a remarkable year for solar in the U.S.

The bad news is, well, you know what the bad news is.

Wood Mackenzie and SEIA put out their 2019 U.S. Solar Market Insight, but the report doesn’t/can’t account for the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the solar industry in 2020 and its supply chains, component costs and project timelines.

Here are five takeaways from the pre-COVID-19 U.S. solar industry.

  • The U.S. solar industry installed 13.3 GW of PV last year, 23% more than in 2018.
  • The U.S. added more than 2.8 GW of residential solar in 2019.
  • Cumulative operating photovoltaic capacity in the U.S. now exceeds 76 GW, up from 1 GW at the end of 2009.
  • Solar accounted for nearly 40% of all new electricity generating capacity added in the U.S. in 2019
  • The contracted utility PV pipeline is a record high 48.1 GW.

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, WoodMac had forecast 47% annual growth for solar this year, with nearly 20 GW of installations expected for a record annual figure. No one would think that forecast likely any more.

SEIA chief executive Abigail Ross Hopper cited the PV industry’s resilience in the face of Section 201 solar import tariffs as a source of hope.

“We know anecdotally that the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting delivery schedules and our ability to meet project completion deadlines, based partly on new labor shortages,” said Hopper. “This once again is testing our industry’s resilience but we believe over the long run we are well positioned to out-compete incumbent generators in the Solar+ decade and to continue growing our market share.”