Solar - Smart Energy Decisions

Commercial, Industrial, Solar, Sourcing Renewables  -  March 9, 2017

SEIA: Corporates behind 10% of new solar in 2016

Solar had its biggest year ever in 2016, with large corporate customers accounting for a record amount of total U.S. capacity additions, according to new data from the industry released March 7. 

The Solar Energy Industry Association's yearly market insight report indicates that the industry nearly doubled its previous record and, for the first time, added more electric generation capacity than any other source of energy. SEIA said in a news release announcing the report — created by SEIA and GTM Research — that over the next five years, the cumulative U.S. solar market is expected to nearly triple in size, even as a slight dip is expected in 2017.

Corporate buyers accounted for what SEIA and GTM characterized as an "unprecedented" amount of new capacity in 2016. Through a combination of direct access programs, contracts for difference and green tariff programs, large corporate customers were behind 10% of 2016 solar capacity additions, totaling more than 1 GW, according to an executive summary of the report. 

"Altogether, the continued rise in non-[renewable portfolio standard] procurement stems from the growing number of geographies where utility solar is now a cost-competitive resource compared with new-build natural gas alternatives," the report reads. 

Among other highlights:

  • The U.S. market installed about 14.8 GW of solar PV in 2016,  nearly doubling the capacity installed in 2015. Growth was primarily driven by the utility PV segment, which installed more in 2016 than the entire market in 2015.
  • On average, a new megawatt of solar PV capacity came online every 36 minutes in 2016.
  • In 2016, a record 22 states each added more than 100 MW of solar PV.

"It would be hard to overstate how impressive 2016 was for the solar industry," SEIA President and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper said in a statement. "Prices dropped to all-time lows, installations expanded in states across the country and job numbers soared. The bottom line is that more people are benefitting from solar now than at any point in the past, and while the market is changing, the broader trend over the next five years is going in one direction – and that's up."

Tags: SEIA

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