According to a recent report from an industry advocacy group, solar energy technology has eclipsed another milestone, this time in total installed capacity.
The Solar Energy Industries Association, Washington, D.C., in partnership with the market research firm Wood Mackenzie, Annapolis, Md., reports that U.S. solar capacity passed 100 gigawatts (GW) in the first quarter of 2021.
Released in June, the latest U.S. Solar Market Insight Report found that America's solar industry installed slightly more than 5 GW of photovoltaic capacity in the first three months of this year. That number, too, is significant. It is a record for the first quarter and 46% higher than the same quarter last year. With this rapid growth, the industry has doubled in size over the last 3.5 years.
These numbers aren't just significant for the industry itself. They help tell a story about the nation's energy landscape overall. With its rapid first-quarter growth, solar accounted for 58% of all new electric capacity additions in the United States, while renewables collectively accounted for nearly 100% of all new electric capacity in the time span.
Also of note, the utility-scale sector accounted for a majority of solar installations, with its own first quarter record of 3.6 GW. For its part, residential solar sales added 905 megawatts (MW), an 11% increase over the same period last year.
According to the report, the commercial solar sector grew by 19% from the same period last year, while the community solar sector declined 15%.
Breaking down the data geographically, Texas led all states with 1.52 GW of new solar capacity, more than it added in all of 2019 and three times more than any other state. Indiana, Virginia, Michigan and Iowa were among the top 10 solar states this quarter.