USA – solar

Solar produced just 0.6% of US electricity in 2015, compared to 4.7% for wind and 33% each for coal and natural gas. But capacity is growing exponentially. Three years ago, the US had 10GW of solar PV in total. In 2016, it is forecast to install 14.1GW. The boom was driven by growth in utility scale solar – 77% of new capacity was in the form of solar farms rather than household panels. link  In 2016, Solar installed 39% of all new electric generating capacity, topping all other technologies for the first time. Solar’s increasing competitiveness against other technologies has allowed it to quickly increase its share of total U.S. electrical generation- from just 0.1% in 2010 to 1.4% today. By 2020 solar should surpass 3% of total generation and is expected to hit 5% by 2022. link    


  • Growth of solar market
  • Leading states
  • Sunshot initiative
  • Utilities opposition to solar
  • Other news

Solar Energy Industries Association –

 Growth of solar market

June 2017: Solar now third largest renewable source of electricity in US. In April, solar reached a new milestone, providing more than 2.3% of U.S. electrical supply, meaning solar has now moved into third place among renewable sources, behind hydropower and wind but ahead of biomass and geothermal. link

December 2016: US solar smashes records in 2016. A record glut of large scale projects saw solar capacity jump enough to connect one home every 11 seconds in the third quarter of the year, and exceeded the amount of solar PV installed in all of 2015. link

December 2015: Solar crosses threshold of one million homes in US. The US has 27GW of solar installed compared to just 2GW in 2010, and best of all it has reached grid parity in 20 states. link (May 2016) America now produces 27.2 gigawatts of solar energy: What does that mean? link
January 2016: Solar job boom in U.S. link

March 2016: Blowout year for solar in USA. In 2016 the booming solar sector will add more new electricity-generating capacity than any other, including natural gas and wind. US Energy Information Administration reports that planned installations for 2016 include 9.5GW of utility-scale solar, followed by 8GW natural gas and 6.8GW of wind. This suggests solar could truly blow out the competition, because the EIA numbers are only for large or utility-scale solar arrays or farms and do not include fast-growing rooftop solar, which will also surely add several additional gigawatts of capacity in 2016. link

October 2016: Rooftop solar in US could stall in 2017. Residential panel installations in the U.S. grew 71% in 2015. In December, Congress unexpectedly extended a tax credit set to expire at the end of 2016. Panel buyers will get reimbursed for 30% of the cost of new solar panels through 2019 and at least 22% through 2021. As solar companies no longer rush to meet a deadline, panel installations are projected to grow by only 0.3% in 2017.Growth is expected to resume by 2018. (Only 1%  of U.S. households have panels on their roofs.) link

July 2016: Rooftop solar losing out to large-scale solar. Solar power is on pace for the first time this year to contribute more new electricity to the grid than will any other form of energy, a feat driven more by economics than green mandates. The cost of electricity from large-scale solar installations now is comparable to and sometimes cheaper than natural gas-fired power, even without incentives. Unsubsidized utility-scale solar power costs $50 to $70 per megawatt-hour (or 5 to 7 cents a kilowatt hour), compared with $52 to $78 for the most efficient type of gas plant, according to a 2015 study by investment bank Lazard. link

March 2015: U.S. installs 6.2GW solar PV in 2014 – link
March 2014: Spectacular growth in solar supply in 2013 –  link
December 2013: US passes Germany on solar installations – link
July 2013: USA becomes 4th nation to install 10GW solar –  link

 Leading states

January 2017: 2016 US solar capacity by state. The U.S. added over 25,000MW of new generation capacity in 2016, according to the U.S. Energy Information, 30% of which was from solar (28% from wind). Despite significant growth in solar installations in the last 10 years, solar still only represents less than 2% of electricity in the U.S. California was clearly ahead of second place North Carolina. link

The top 10 states in the USA in 2015

California leads with 13,241MW of solar capacity capable of powering an estimated 3.32 million homes. Second is Arizona with 2,303 MW then North Carolina with 2,087MW.
Full 10 list – link

How 50 US states compare with solar incentives – source

October 2016: World’s largest solar farm planned for Nevada desert. The $5 billion project would rival the capacity of two nuclear power plants for the 2GW Sandstone project. The plan is to use solar-thermal technology, which is more expensive than standard solar PV power, but also has storage capabilities so it can send power to the grid all night long. The sprawling Nevada project would have 10 towers and cover 15,000 acres. The current biggest solar-thermal plant in the world is the 392MW Ivanpah facility in the Mojave Desert in California which doesn’t have storage capability. link

Home solar in USA – evaluate if it works for you  – check here
Sunshot initiative

SunShot Initiative – The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) SunShot Initiative will reduce the total costs of solar energy systems by about 75% before 2020. This major national effort to make solar energy technologies cost competitive with other forms of energy, without subsidies, will leverage the combined technical expertise of research laboratories, academic institutions, and industry across the country. link

May 2016: Update on SunShot initiative. The U.S. now has over 10 times more solar installed today compared to 2011 when the SunShot Initiative was first launched, and the overall costs of solar have dropped by 65%. The cost of installing solar energy in the United States is down more than 50% since the start of a federal support program. The Energy Department said it was about 70% on its way to reaching its goals. Solar power accounts for about 1% of the total electricity consumed in the United States, but represented 30% of the new power generation brought online last year. link 

 Utilities opposition to solar

September 2013: Utilities divided on rooftop solar in US. Today’s solar industry is puny – it supplies less than 1% of the electricity in the U.S. – but its advocates say that solar is, at long last, ready to move from the fringe of the energy economy to the mainstream. Photovoltaic panel prices are falling. Low-cost financing for installing rooftop solar is available. Federal and state government incentives remain generous. Yet opposition from regulated utilities, which burn fossil fuels to produce most of their electricity, could stop a solar boom before it gets started. Several utilities have asked their state regulators to reduce incentives or impose charges on customers who install rooftop solar; so far, at least, they aren’t making much headway.  But other utility companies are adopting a different strategy – they are joining forces with solar interests. “The industry is divided on how to deal with the opportunity – or threat,” says Nat Kraemer, Clean Power Finance’s founder and CEO. “Some utilities are saying, how I make money off distributed solar, as opposed to how do I fight distributed solar.” link

April 2016: Rooftop solar blocked in 10 high-potential states. States with some of the highest solar potential in the U.S. are hindering rooftop-solar development through poor policies, according to a recent report from the Center for Biological Diversity. The report said that 10 states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin) account for more than 35% of the total rooftop-solar potential in the U.S., but have less than 3% of total installed capacity. link

 Other news

July 2015: US solar production underestimated by 50%. Actual solar electricity production in the United States is 50% higher than previous estimates, according to a new analysis. All told, analysts found that solar energy systems in the U.S. generated 30.4 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity in the 12 months ending in March 2015. Three states – California, Arizona, and Hawaii – can now say that solar provides more than 5% of their total annual electricity demand. The new estimate includes generation from behind-the-meter solar systems, which is not included in estimates produced by the Energy Information Administration. link

May 2013: America’s military is making an unprecedented commitment to renewable energy sources, and solar is “walking point” on many of these new, innovative efforts. As the New York Times reported, “After a decade of waging wars in remote corners of the globe where fuel is not readily available, senior commanders have come to see over-dependence on fossil fuel as a big liability, and renewable technologies, which have become more reliable and less expensive over the past few years, as providing a potential answer.” The goal is to have 50% of the power used by the Navy and Marines come from renewable energy sources by 2020 – a seismic shift in Pentagon thinking about energy. link
A federal mandate requires the Army to reduce its energy consumption by 30% by 2015 and generate 25% of its energy from renewable sources by 2025