U.S. solar saw largest first quarter growth in 2020 - Smart Energy Decisions

Solar  -  June 15, 2020

U.S. solar saw largest first quarter growth in 2020

Solar accounted for nearly 40% of all new electricity generating capacity added in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2020 with the installation of 3.6 GW of new capacity added, the largest first quarter of solar installation ever in the U.S.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie released June 11 the U.S. Solar Market Insight Q2 2020 report, which found that while the U.S. had its largest first quarter of solar installations, the coronavirus pandemic has severely impacted the solar industry. While the first quarter of the year in the solar industry did not see too much impact from the pandemic, research suggests that it will still have longer-term impacts starting later in 2020. 

Distributed solar has seen the most impact and is expected to experience 31% fewer installations this year than in 2019 as installers face work stoppages and sales strategy transitions and the impending recession reduces consumer and business appetite for large investments.

Solar is still expected to grow 33% in 2020 with an expected 18 GWdc of installations, however, that number has dropped 9% from a previous estimate of 20 GW of installations, which was predicted before the pandemic.

“The solar industry has certainly been impacted by the pandemic, resulting in uncertainty for businesses and 72,000 Americans out of a job,” Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “Our industry remains one of the fastest-growing industries in the country, and with simple policy action now, we are ready to lead our economic recovery and provide new hope for out of work Americans in the second half of this year.”

SEIA and Wood Mackenzie are now predicting that the U.S. solar market will install 113 GW of solar from 2020-2025, which is down by 3.6 GW from their prediction made at the end of 2019.

“While the utility segment shows promise with sustained levels of procurement so far, lower energy demand due to productivity loss and wholesale electricity market price drops will add to the uncertainty,” Ravi Manghani, Head of Solar at Wood Mackenzie, added in a statement. “All in all, the pandemic and the ensuing economic slowdown will weigh heavily on the solar industry in the coming months if the economy is slow to recover and financing dries up.”

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