U.S. added 7,200 megawatts of solar power in 2015

Residential installations lead the way

New initiative to boost several solar projects with $27 million.
Solar outpaced natural gas capacity additions in 2015.

Staff Report

The U.S. solar power market grew by 17 percent in 2015, adding more than 7,200 megawatts of photovoltaics and outpacing the growth of the natural gas capacity additions for the first time ever. In all, solar supplied 29.5 percent of all new electric generating capacity in the U.S. in 2015.

The solar sector grew fastest in California, North Carolina, Nevada, Massachusetts and New York, but the market continues to diversify geographically, with 13 states installing more than 100 megawatts of capacity in 2015.

The residential solar market grew 66 percent in 2015, eclipsing two gigawatts for the first time ever.  The residential solar segment now represents 29 percent of the entire U.S. solar market – its largest share since 2009.

Utility-scale solar also boomed, growing six percent over 2014 and accounting for more than half of all solar PV installed in 2015. Cumulative U.S. solar PV installations have now topped 25 GW, up from just 2 GW in 2010.

“Without a doubt, 2015 was a monumental year for the U.S. solar industry, and perhaps what’s most amazing is that we’re only getting started,” said Solar Energy Industries Association president and CEO Rhone Resch. “Over the next few years, we’re going to see solar continue to reach unprecedented heights as our nation makes a shift toward a carbon-free source of energy that also serves as an economic and job-creating engine.”

“The U.S. solar market remains concentrated in key states, with the top ten states accounting for 87 percent of installed capacity in 2015,” said Shayle Kann, Senior Vice President of GTM Research. “But growth has been widespread, and 24 of the 35 states that we track individually saw market growth in 2015.”

Key Findings:

  • The U.S. installed 7,286 MWdc of solar photovoltaics (PV) in 2015, the largest total ever and 17% above 2014
  • The 7.3 GW installed in 2015 is 8.6 times the capacity installed five years earlier in 2010
  • Residential was once again the fastest growing sector, installing over 2 GWdc for the first time and growing 66% over 2014
  • Utility solar PV also had a record year with over 4 GW installed, up 6% over 2014
  • 110 MWac of concentrating solar power (CSP) capacity came online in late 2015 when SolarReserve’s Crescent Dunes project began sending electricity to the grid
  • Non-residential solar was essentially flat for the third year in a row, installing just over 1 GWdc
  • Cumulative solar PV installations reached over 25 GWdc by the end of the year, up from just 2 GW at the end of 2010

For more information, visit http://www.seia.org/smi.

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