For the first time in the history, residential PV installation in the U.S. surpassed the non-residential (commercial) installation in Q1 2014. According to GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industry Association’s (SEIA) Q1 2014 U.S. Solar Market Insight Report, the U.S. installed 232MW of residential PV, exceeding the non-residential (commercial) market’s 225MW. Due to strong year-over-year growth in the utility and residential markets, the United States installed 1,330MW of solar photovoltaics (PV) in the first quarter of 2014.
The historic milestone was caused by ongoing strength in the residential sector and volatility in the non-residential market. Despite the dip in non-residential installations, GTM Research and SEIA expect the market to rebound and surpass the residential market in 2014 annual PV installations. “Solar accounted for 74% of all new U.S. electric capacity installed in Q1 2014, further signaling the rapidly increasing role that solar is playing in the energy market,” said Shayle Kann, Senior Vice President at GTM Research. “Expect to see a resurgence in the non-residential market, combined with continued incremental residential growth, throughout the rest of this year.”
Not to be outshone by the success of the residential sector, the utility PV market continued its dominance, growing 171% between Q1 2013 and Q1 2014. With 873 megawatts installed, it accounted for two-thirds of total installations during the quarter. Large-scale projects that were under contracts and negotiations between 2010 and 2012 are now becoming a reality.
In another significant development, the completion of the 392MW (AC) Ivanpah project and the Genesis Solar projects’ second 125MW (AC) phase has caused Q1 2014 to become the largest quarter ever for concentrating solar power (CSP). 2014 may be the largest year for CSP in history as a total of 857MW is expected to be finished by year’s end.
The United States’ solar market is off to a strong start in 2014. GTM Research and SEIA forecast 6.6 gigawatts of PV will be installed in the U.S. by the end of the year, up 39% over 2013. “Solar energy is now generating enough clean, reliable and affordable electricity to effectively power 3 million American homes, while creating thousands of new jobs nationwide and pumping nearly $15 billion a year into the U.S. economy,” said SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch. “Solar is also providing a big boost for our environment. The 14,800 megawatts of currently installed in the U.S. can generate enough pollution-free electricity to displace 18 billion pounds of coal or 1.8 billion gallons of gasoline. That’s the equivalent of removing 3.5 million passenger cars off our roads and highways. For states trying to meet new, enhanced air quality standards, solar can be a real game changer.”